Thursday, August 8, 2013

Meridian float to push ahead despite lack of interest - TVNZ

Published: 6:24AM Friday August 09, 2013 Source: ONE News



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The Government says it remains confident the partial sale of Meridian Energy will be successful despite a poll showing New Zealanders have little interest in buying shares.

The latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll shows 86% of kiwis are unlikely to buy shares in the state-owned energy company.

Only 3% of people are very likely to invest, with another 11% saying they are quite likely, according to the poll.

Shares in Mighty River power which was partially floated on the stock exchange in May remain around 20 cents below listing price.

However, Finance Minister Bill English says the Meridian float will be successful.

Mr English says it is important to the Government to achieve 85% kiwi ownership of the shares sold.

"We achieved it in the last float and we'll certainly be aiming to achieve that in this float," he said.

With Mighty River Power shares below their float price and Meridian shares due to go on sale in October, the Government is considering incentives such as allowing investors to receive their shares upfront but pay for them in installments.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, say the Government's $30 million payment to the owners of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is nothing more than a ploy to push its asset sales agenda.

Labour says the power supply agreement between Rio Tinto and Meridian Energy, doesn't have the long-term interests of the smelter workers at heart.

The smelter contributes 10% of Southland's GDP and employs more than 3000 people.

However opposition parties are questioning the Government's motive.

Labour's SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said National is desperate to get Meridian sold off.

"They've tipped in $30 million. Why? To get the deal done, to get it off the books. In a few weeks time you'll see announcements about Meridian being on the block. And the poor old taxpayer and the people of Southland have some short term fix," Mr Cosgrove told ONE News.

The deal guarantees Tiwai Point will stay open until at least 2017.

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