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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Meridian gains after 8-day slide

New Zealand shares rose, led by Meridian Energy as investors returned to the stock after eight days of decline. Spark New Zealand rose.

The NZX 50 Index rose 6.963 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5854.319. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 19 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $89 million.

Meridian rose for the first time in nine days, gaining 3.2 percent to $1.91 The partially privatised energy company listed on the bourse in October 2013, with the shares offered in installment receipts to sweeten the offer, with $1 upfront and the promise of full entitlement to dividends, and the remaining 50 cents due next month. The stock has declined some 11 percent over the past month, having gained over 70 percent over the past 12 months.

"There's some recovery in the Meridian share price," said Matthew Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management. "The key thing coming up for them is the payment of the installment so it will be very interesting to see if all investors have factored that in, or not."

Spark, formerly Telecom Corp, was unchanged at $2.975 and network operator Chorus gained 1.2 percent to $2.96. Across the Tasman, M2 Group, the ASX-listed voice and data services company, has agreed to acquire New Zealand's Call Plus for $250 million, gaining the New Zealand's third largest broadband and fixed voice services provider and the Slingshot, Orcon, Flip and 2talk brands. The deal may see more competition for Spark in the domestic telecommunications market.

"They're a highly acquisitive Australian company," Goodson said. "Call Plus has built a decent pool of revenue in recent years and just looking at the presentation that appears to be coming through to some pretty strong projected growth from 2014 through to 2016, on which is the basis they've been bought. They're potentially stronger competition for Spark.

New Zealand Oil & Gas rose 0.9 percent to 58 cents. The Wellington-based oil and gas company gained directors on the board of Cue Energy Resources, after securing 48 percent of the energy company it says may be encouraged to delist from the ASX.

Outside the benchmark index, Trilogy International advanced 4 percent to $1.04. The scented candle and skincare company was issued a 'please explain' notice by NZX, after its share price climbed 25 percent from Friday's close to Monday morning trading. Trilogy said it thought the price jump was due to its guidance update last month, when it said it expects annual profit will more than treble with improved earnings at its Australian unit and as its Ecoya candle division makes money for the first time.

On the New Zealand Alternative Index, Just Water International climbed 9.9 percent to 14.4 cents, after the water cooler and supplies business 79 percent owned by founder Tony Falkenstein agreed to sell its Australian business to Waterlogic Australia for A$11 million in cash to repay debt and fund growth.