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

15,000 fewer people dependent on benefits

17 Apr 2014 News
New Zealand Government 15,000 fewer people dependent on benefits Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the latest benefit ... more

Govt to establish Food Safety Science & Research Centre

16 Apr 2014 News
  Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that expressions of interest... more

Business

Air NZ says claims withdrawn as other airlines settle in Oz

17 Apr 2014 Business News
Article - BusinessDesk   Air New Zealand says claims withdrawn as other airlines settle over cargo cartel, seeks costs April 17 ... more

Genesis Energy soars on debut, other gen-taliers rise

17 Apr 2014 Business News By Suze Metherell
  Genesis Energy soars on debut, leading fellow energy companies higher April 17 (BusinessDesk) – Shares in the partially... more

Living

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

3 Mile Limit Movie Continues to Win Awards in the U.S

15 Apr 2014 Lifestyle
New Zealand movie ‘3 Mile Limit’ has won Best Feature Film at both the North Hollywood and Charleston International Film... 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

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

New Zealand immigration hits ten year high

28 Mar 2014 Migration
New statistics have shown net migration to New Zealand to be at a 10 year high, with China becoming the largest source of new... more

Travel

Chinese company to build $200M hotel on Auckland waterfront

16 Apr 2014 Travel & Tourism By Suze Metherell
  Company linked to one of China’s richest women to spend $200 mln on Auckland hotel April 16 (BusinessDesk) – Fu... more

SmartGate opens to arriving UK & US travellers

3 Apr 2014 Travel & Tourism
Customs Minister Maurice Williamson today announced SmartGate is now open to United Kingdom and American travellers on arrival. The... more

Sport

Dan Carter: All Blacks's goal is back-to-back World Cups

17 Apr 2014 Rugby By Oliver Brown
New Zealand No 10 is loving his sabbatical, including a trip to the Masters, however his only motive is to return fit and fresh for... more

Seeds March to Quarters at Skycity NZ Badminton Open

17 Apr 2014 Sport
TOP SEEDS CONTINUE MARCH TO QUARTER FINALS AT SKYCITY NZ BADMINTON OPEN Top seeds dominated in this morning’s 3rd round... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell: drone strikes & Judith Collins‘ last stand

17 Apr 2014 Opinion
Reportedly, US drone operators refer to their kills as "bug splat” - mainly because when the carnage is viewed on their... more

Gordon Campbell on the life & ACC work of Sir Owen Woodhouse

16 Apr 2014 Opinion
With the death of Sir Owen Woodhouse, the founding father of the Accident Compensation Scheme, New Zealand has lost one of the... more

Kiwi Success

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

Kiwi alpinist is finalist for prestigious award

26 Mar 2014 People
NZ Alpine Club Kiwi alpinist is finalist for prestigious mountaineering award New Zealand Alpine Club President John Cocks has today... 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