Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Markets and Banking reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Joyce finds upside to Mighty River delay

Photo / APN
Photo / APN

There is a silver lining in the delay to the partial listing of Mighty River Power, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce told finance industry players yesterday.

Joyce - who was addressing the Institute of Financial Professionals New Zealand Conference in Auckland - said the delay, while it was frustrating, gave the Government more time to "grow the level of interest" in the asset sale plan.

"Much of the interest is from Kiwis who might be new to the sharemarket and to owning shares," Joyce said.

"There is a strong desire for more understandable, factual information about the mixed ownership programme generally and also the sharemarket in general," he said.

"We'll use the additional time to provide this information to New Zealanders so when the first share offer commences in 2013 prospective investors will be in a position to be confident when deciding whether or not to make an investment."

On Monday Prime Minister John Key confirmed the listing of state-owned Mighty River Power would be delayed until the second quarter of next year to give the Government more time to consult with iwi over the shares-plus concept.

In its interim report the Waitangi Tribunal said the allocation of special power company shares with additional financial and governance rights attached, was potentially a way to address Maori claims over water.

However, Joyce said yesterday it was the Government's view that shares-plus "should not be progressed".

"Firstly, we don't believe that shares-plus is in the national interest - all investors in Mighty River Power's 49 per cent minority shareholding, in the Government's view, should have equal rights," he said. "Secondly, shares-plus is likely to make the company less attractive to investors if it went ahead and that would be reflected in a lower sale price and therefore be to the detriment of all taxpayers."

Joyce added that Treaty settlements were the Crown's responsibility - not the responsibility of companies, even those part or fully owned by the Government.

- NZ Herald

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