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Budget 2013: Meridian next on the block

By Issac Davison

Meridian Energy has been confirmed as the next state-owned energy company to be partially floated on the stock exchange later this year.

Government also announced in today's Budget that $1.5 billion from the asset sales programme would be channelled into hospitals, schools, Kiwirail, and irrigation over the next year.

Meridian was the second of three energy companies to be floated, with the Mighty River Power share offer earning $1.7 billion last week and 113,000 investors buying shares.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said Meridian would benefit from the same listing process, with New Zealanders getting another chance to invest in a large New Zealand company.

He has instructed Treasury to ready Meridian for a share offer of up to 49 per cent of the company in the second half of the year, depending on market conditions.

"A key first step in the offer process is for the half-year financial results of Meridian to be independently audited, and this will commence as soon as the results are confirmed after 30 June," Ryall said.

Ryall also confirmed that $1.5 billion would be allocated from the Future Investment Fund, which holds the asset sales earnings. This followed the allocation of $569 million from the fund in last year's Budget.

Around $420 million would go to the redevelopment of Christchurch and Burwood hospitals.

The fund would also allocate $50 million for increasing technological capability in schools.

Kiwirail's Turnaround Plan would get $94 million from the fund, and another $80 million would be injected into irrigation projects.

The partial float of the three energy companies was expected to generate $5 billion to $7 billion.

Finance Minister Bill English said he still expected this goal to be achieved despite the collapse of mining company Solid Energy, because the figure took into account a number of actors including changes in the companies' values.

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- NZ Herald

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