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Vigorous trading in New Zealand power company IPO

New Zealand's Finance Minister Bill English, second left, holds a gavel at the stock market launch of Mighty River Power in Wellington, New Zealand on Friday, May 10, 2013. The government raised 1.7 billion New Zealand dollars ($1.4 billion) from the sale of a minority stake in the state-owned New Zealand power company. Others are Mighty River Power chairwoman Joan Withers, left, stock market Chief Executive Tim Bennett and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall, right. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Shares in a state-owned New Zealand power company rose 9 percent in their stock market debut Friday, giving a boost to the government's asset sale plans.

The government sold 49 percent of Mighty River Power to investors for 2.5 New Zealand dollars ($2.10) a share. The shares reached a high of NZ$2.73 in the first day of trading. About 50 million shares changed hands within three hours.

The government raised NZ$1.7 billion ($1.4 billion) from the share sale.

It plans to use the proceeds to help reduce debt. But many New Zealanders opposed the politically contentious sale.

The government says it plans to sell minority stakes in two more state-owned energy companies.

The initial public offering increased the value of New Zealand's stock market by about 5 percent.