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Salt Funds emerges as one of the biggest holders of Methven with 7.8% stake

Salt Funds Management has emerged as a substantial investor of Methven, building a 7.8 percent stake in a company that has lagged behind the NZX 50 Index despite exposure to a strong domestic building sector and the imminent release of a new range of shower and tapware products.

The Auckland-based boutique fund manager bought 2.07 million shares on market at $1.15 apiece, bringing its holding to 5.69 million. Trading data shows about 4 million shares changed hands on Feb. 5, the busiest single day of trading since May 2009, when 14.5 million shares traded.

Salt managing director Matthew Goodson said he didn't want to comment on individual transactions by his firm. Methven shares have fallen about 18 percent in the past 12 months, while the NZX 50 has advanced 19 percent. Fletcher Building, New Zealand's biggest construction and building products, fell about 5 percent in the same period.

In a briefing on the company's first-half results in November, chief executive David Banfield and chief financial officer Deidre Campbell said full-year net profit would be at the top end of guidance for 15 percent-to-25 percent growth.

According to Companies Office records TEA Custodians, whose biggest shareholder is owned by Sterling Grace (NZ), held 7.9 percent of Methven, making it the single largest investor.