Market close: Z Energy the big mover as takeover looms

Fuel provider Z Energy was the day’s big mover on the New Zealand sharemarket after its board backed a $2 billion takeover by Australian petroleum company Ampol.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index turned into negative territory at lunchtime, falling 67.23 points or 0.51 per cent to 13,019.37, after reaching an intraday high of 13,126.96.

There were 57 gainers and 85 decliners over the whole market on volume of 49.36 million share transactions worth $165.05 million.

Z Energy rose 23c or 6.8 per cent to $3.61 following six weeks of due diligence and negotiations with Ampol, which was established in 1936 and ran the Caltex service stations in Australia.

Under the scheme of arrangement, Z shareholders will receive $3.78 a share and the first 5c a share of the interim dividend without adjusting the cash offer – resulting in a takeover of $3.83 a share.

Shareholders will meet early next year to approve the deal, which is subject to key regulatory consents. Ampol had earlier made indicative bids of $3.35, $3.50 and $3.60 a share.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research with Craigs Investment Partners, said not long ago Z Energy’s share price was at $8, and the takeover deal doesn’t feel like a great outcome for long-term shareholders.

“Z Energy is in a sunset industry in some ways and the offer reflects the uncertain future of the business. When the board backs an offer, it often goes through.”

Lister said the market overall was “a little bit lacklustre” and seems to be in a holding pattern, waiting for the start of the next global reporting season later this week.

“That will be the next catalyst. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised at the lack of movement in alert levels but I think the lockdowns are starting to hit sentiment and confidence, with some businesses reaching tipping point. It’s difficult to maintain the half-glass full view.”

Auckland remains in level 3 phase 1 for at least another week, and Waikato and Northland stay there till Friday. The NZX index fell further after the latest 4pm Government announcement.

Two energy companies had strong days – Contact was up 17c or 2.08 per cent to $8.33, and Meridian increased 11.5c or 2.36 per cent to $4.98. Genesis was also up 2.5c to $3.315.

Comvita rose 15c or 4.11per cent to $3.80 after telling the market its operating earnings (Ebitda) improved 10.6 per cent in the first quarter of the 2022 financial year, compared with the previous corresponding period, despite shipping delays for $4m worth of goods. Comvita has maintained a full-year Ebitda of $27m-$30m.

Radius Residential Care is buying Clare House, an integrated care facility and retirement village in Invercargill, for $14.5m, and its share price gained 2c or 3.85 per cent to 54c.

Other gainers were AFT Pharmaceuticals, rising 8c or 1.99 per cent to $4.10; Briscoe Group picking up 10c to $6.80; Hallenstein Glasson increasing 9c to $6.99; Marsden Maritime Holdings up 13c or 2.07 per cent to $6.40; Rakon collecting 7c or 4.67 per cent to $1.57; and NZME up 3c or 2.83 per cent to $1.09.

Fisher and Paykel Healthcare fell below $30 for the first time in three months, falling 50c to $29.75; Mainfreight was down 53c to $92.30; and a2 Milk declined 6c to $6.25.

Port of Tauranga slipped further, down 12c to $6.68; Chorus fell 5c to $6.45; Skellerup Holdings declined 8c to $6.07; Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund shed 7c to $3.90; EROAD decreased 13c or 2.28 per cent to $5.57; and Bremworth was down 4c or 5 per cent to 76c.

Travel stocks Auckland International Airport declined 11c to $7.79; Air New Zealand was down 3c to $1.665; while Serko was up 6c to $7.97.

Fletcher Building declined 10c to $7.18 after receiving an earnings forecast downgrade from one broker. Fletcher’s operating earnings (Ebit) was reduced from $719m to $701m because of the late Covid lockdowns.

Summerset Group Holdings has made 199 sales in the quarter ending September and a total of 744 sales for the nine months of the present financial year, making up 95 per cent of the 2020 full-year sales. Summerset’s share price fell 10c to $15.30, and Ryman Healthcare was down 38c or 2.55 per cent to $14.55.

SkyCity Entertainment was down 14c or 4.24 per cent to $3.16 after it told the market that long-time chair Rob Campbell was stepping down early next year to focus on other work commitments.

Meal kit company My Food Bag matched its low since listing at $1.85, finishing the day 1c down at $1.27.

Wellington Drive Technologies headed Z Energy as the biggest gainer, rising 1.2c or 8 per cent to 16.2c.

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