Govt tables privatisation bill; mulls Air NZ options   5 Mar 2012

Draft legislation to allow the partial privatisation of four state-owned energy companies has been tabled today, with its First Reading in Parliament due on Thursday.

As expected, the Bill will transfer existing clauses in the State-Owned Enterprises Act relating to Crown obligations to Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi and to “memorialised” land for settlement of Treaty claims.

However, the companies will no longer be subject to corporate responsibility obligations or to the Official Information Act. Only ministerial decisions relating to the government’s investment in the four companies will be subject to requests for public disclosure, whereas the businesses’ commercial decisions will be shielded from the OIA.

It will also include clauses requiring that the government remain the majority shareholder of the companies, defined as a 51 percent or greater shareholder, and that no other shareholder be allowed to own more than a 10 percent stake in the companies.

SOE Minister Tony Ryall confirmed the first SOE up for partial privatisation will be MightyRiverPower, owner of the Mercury retail electricity brand, “around the third quarter” of this year.

The other energy companies slated for partial sale are electricity generator-retailers Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy, and coal company Solid Energy. Further shares in Air New Zealand, which is already partially privatised, are also to be offered but it is not dealt with under the new legislation.

The government was taking separate legal advice on a further selldown of Air NZ shares, with some 27 percent of the NZX-listed company in public hands “because of the greater complexity around Air NZ’s existing shareholding," Ryall said.

The inclusion of the contentious Section 9 of the SOE Act in the new bill follows consultation with Maori interests following an outcry at suggestions that reference to the Crown’s Treaty obligations be left out of the bill for fear it would deter private investors.

Instead, the bill will include the clause, while making explicit that it applies only to those shares owned by the government.

Also to be replicated will be Section 27A-D to protect Maori interests in memorialised land owned by the partially privatised companies.

SOE Act requirements relating to social and environmental responsibilities will not carry over into the new bill.

“Like most large commercial entities, the mixed ownership companies will continue to build stakeholder trust and public support for their activities in a number of ways, including through their corporate social responsibility polices,” Ryall said.

Continuous disclosure requirements that come with stock exchange listing would require commercial transparency from the partially privatised companies.

“The rationale for selling minority stakes in the SOEs was that New Zealand “must not get into the kind of debt trap the UK and Europe are in," Ryall said.

"The $5 billion to $7 billion we expect to free up by these partial share floats will go into the Future Investment Fund to build priority assets like schools, hospitals and infrastructure.”

The assets for sale comprised less than 3 per cent of the government's total assets.

(BusinessDesk)

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

East Coast Iwi concerned over future of country’s oldest wharenui

23 Apr 2014 News
An East Coast iwi says they are concerned the Crown has not made good on its promise to return their wharenui – the oldest... more

EU/NZ renewable energy mission to the Pacific

22 Apr 2014 News
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and the European Commissioner for Development Mr Andris Piebalgs depart tomorrow on a... more

Business

Equity crowd funding carries risks, high failure rate

23 Apr 2014 Business News
Article - BusinessDesk   Equity crowd funding, latest step in much-hyped social capital, carries risks, high failure rate By... more

NZ dollar edges up as RBNZ rate review eyed

22 Apr 2014 Business News By Paul McBeth
  NZ dollar edges up as local trading resumes, RBNZ rate review eyed April 22 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand dollar edged up... more

Living

NZ film wins mention at Sunset film festival

22 Apr 2014 Entertainment
Film and Stage Producer/Director Craig Hutchison, is pleased to be representing New Zealand at the Sunset Film Festival in Los ... more

The Taite Music Prize: IMNZ announces this years winner

17 Apr 2014 Entertainment
The winner of the fourth annual Taite Music Prize 2013 is Lorde for her album ‘Pure Heroine’ released on Universal Music... more

Property

NZ house values rise at slowest annual pace in 6 months in March, QV says

7 Apr 2014 Property
April 7 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand property values increased at the slowest annual pace in six months in March as lower... more

Auckland landlords lead in capital gains

28 Mar 2014 Property
Three-bedroom houses in Glen Innes giving an annual capital gain of 18.9%, followed by New Windsor. Auckland landlords are making... more

Migration

NZ migration rises to 11-year high in March as fewer kiwis leave for Australia

23 Apr 2014 Migration By Suze Metherell
April 23 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand migration rose to an 11-year high in March, the second-highest gain on record, as fewer... more

New working holiday agreement between New Zealand and Croatia launched

28 Mar 2014 Migration
Citizens of Croatia aged between 18 and 30 will soon be eligible to apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, giving them the... more

Travel

Germany jumps to NZ’s fifth largest tourism market

23 Apr 2014 NZ Tourism
With 9,424 extra arrivals for the 12 months to the end of March, Germany has overtaken Japan to become New Zealand’s fifth... more

Warbirds over Wanaka

22 Apr 2014 Travel & Tourism
Wanaka: The success of the inaugural #GigatownWanaka Jet racing at the Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow will likely see the event return... more

Sport

NZ Canoe Sprint Team Heads to Milan for World Cup

22 Apr 2014 Sport
The New Zealand Open team departs today to commence their World Cup campaign in Europe. Their first assault will be on the ICF Canoe... more

Top Results for Kiwi youth sailors in Britain

22 Apr 2014 Sport
New Zealand has won a mass of medals at the RYA Youth National Championships Regatta which wrapped up on Friday 18th April in... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Shane Jones departure

23 Apr 2014 Opinion By Gordon Campbell
Shane Jones has left Parliament in the manner to which we have become accustomed, with self interest coming in first and second, and... more

Mind-set, meaning & moderation in optimal health

20 Apr 2014 Column By Tricia Alach
The holistic helper's guide to Wellness: Part Two   To misquote Aristotle ‘We are what we repeatedly do, wellness then is... more

Kiwi Success

New Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security appointed

23 Apr 2014 Appointments
Prime Minister John Key today announced the appointment of Cheryl Gwyn as Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. The... more

BNZ names Anthony Healy as new CEO, replacing Thorburn

17 Apr 2014 Appointments
April 17 (BusinessDesk) – Bank of New Zealand, the local unit of Australia’s third-biggest mortgage lender, named the... more

Recruitment

Growth seen further lifting average wage by $7,500

15 Apr 2014 Recruitment
  The average annual wage is expected to increase by $7,500 to around $62,200 a year by 2018 if New Zealand achieves its ... more

NZ employment confidence lifts in 1st-qtr

31 Mar 2014 Recruitment
Article - BusinessDesk   NZ employment confidence lifts in 1st-qtr, current job opportunities seen less negative March 31 ... more