24 Oct 2013

Poor demand for Meridian shares

7:53 am on 24 October 2013

The Government has set the price of Meridian Energy shares at the bottom of its indicative range.

And, in what can only be viewed as a poor outcome for the Government, the float attracted just 62,000 investors, a little over half the number who bought shares in the Mighty River Power float in May.

Both floats attracted far less retail support than the 228,000 investors who bought shares in the Contact Energy float in 1999.

Meridian shares have been priced at $1.50 compared with the indicative range of $1.50 to $1.80.

The Government will realise a total of $1.88 billion from the sale of 49% of Meridian compared with the $1.7 billion it realised from selling 49% of Mighty River Power, a much smaller company.

Devon Funds Management analyst Phill Anderson says the outcome is disappointing with very weak retail demand.

He says Mighty River was a weak result compared to Contact Energy when it listed at just over 100,000 retail investors, but Meridian only has 60,000 retail investors.

Mr Anderson says the share price was fixed at the bottom of the indicative range because once the retail investors were not there they had to fill the gap with the institutions.

He says the institutions wanted a decent price discount to take account of the risk of any future Labour and Greens government after the two parties said that if elected in 2014, they would establish a state-owned company, NZ Power.