Govt launches privatisation site for newbie investors

Investors will soon be able to own a share of Mighty River Power iowner of the Nga Awa Purua Geothermal Power Station.Photo / Andrew Warner.
Investors will soon be able to own a share of Mighty River Power iowner of the Nga Awa Purua Geothermal Power Station.Photo / Andrew Warner.

First-time and retail sharemarket investors are being targeted by a new government website set up to provide basic information about the process of partially privatising up to four of its energy companies and to sell further shares in Air New Zealand.

While deliberately bland, in order to comply with Securities Act restrictions on what owners can say about companies they propose to sell shares in, the website combines the political and economic rationales for the sale with information on sharemarket investing, and on each of the companies.

Links to the New Zealand Stock Exchange, the Office of the Retirement Commissioner's financial planning Sorted website and the Financial Markets Authority are also included.

The site comes ahead of legislation currently before a parliamentary select committee to allow the so-called "mixed ownership model" process to occur, and which will see the government retain a controlling interest of at least 51 per cent in the electricity companies MightyRiverPower, Meridian Energy, and Genesis Energy, and the state coal miner, Solid Energy.

No single shareholder will be able to own more than 10 per cent of the MOMco's shares, apart from the government.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said the government expects between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of the MOMco shares to remain New Zealand owned, including the government's stake.

Strong appetite is expected from managed funds, including KiwiSaver providers, as well as from retail investors.

"The government remains on track to proceed with the first share offer, for MightyRiverPower, in the third quarter of 2012, market conditions permitting," said Ryall in a statement.

The FMA has granted some exemptions from restrictions on what the government could say about the potential investments, which Ryall said was "quite common" and had occurred in the sale of stakes in both Contact Energy Auckland International Airport.

In February, the Treasury appointed Chris Major, a former senior communications adviser and one-time private secretary to Cabinet Minister Murray McCully, to the marketing and communications director role overseeing the partial privatisation plan.

The department also appointed Senate Communications to run its public relations and Clemenger - for many years state-owned Meridian Energy's advertising agency -the advertising contract.

See here for the website.

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