Holcim negotiating Westport asset sale

By Lee Scanlon

Holcim is in confidential negotiations with prospective buyers of its Westport assets, but focusing only on those parties interested in buying all of its landholdings. Photo / File
Holcim is in confidential negotiations with prospective buyers of its Westport assets, but focusing only on those parties interested in buying all of its landholdings. Photo / File

Holcim is in confidential negotiations with prospective buyers of its Westport assets, says capital projects manager Ken Cowie.

The company closed its Cape Foulwind cement works in June after 58 years of operation in Buller. It is selling all its Westport holdings including the cement works site, a quarry, packing plant site, wharf silos, water treatment plant and 11 houses.

The assets comprise about 500ha of land, including 200ha of farmland.

Expressions of interest closed last July.

Cowie said that since then Holcim had focused only on those parties interested in buying all of its land holdings.

"We are currently in ongoing confidential negotiations with these parties. Should these be unsuccessful Holcim will look to dispose of individual parcels of land separately." Negotiations included whether Holcim or new owners would be responsible for remediating sites to meet Holcim's resource consent obligations.

"The demolition process is a part of these discussions and Holcim still expect that the plant sites will be demolished."

Asked whether there was a possibility of Holcim gifting any or all of its assets to the local community, Cowie said that was part of the ongoing negotiations.

The Westport Works Quarry area that Holcim has restored back to indigenous vegetation. Photo / File
The Westport Works Quarry area that Holcim has restored back to indigenous vegetation. Photo / File

He was unable to say when the talks would be completed.

To ensure security and safety, both the cement works site and Larsen Street, where 10 of the houses are situated, were under 24-hour security, he said.

He would not reveal how many of the houses remained occupied, citing privacy and security reasons.

Cowie said he was responsible for all the Westport sites. Karl Clementson was the on-site Holcim representative.

The Westport News understands former Westport manager Clark Nelson, who was to supervise decommissioning and demolition, left the company last year.

The Holcim properties were marketed by international property consultancy Jones Lang Lassale (JLL). Chris Harding, who heads JLL's Christchurch office, said last September there had been "massive" interest from prospective buyers.

He said negotiations were about to begin with fewer than 10, all of them New Zealand companies which had each expressed an interest in buying the entire Holcim portfolio in Buller.

At that stage Harding hoped to have a conditional sale before Christmas.

Westport lost over 100 jobs when Holcim closed its cement works in favour of importing cement from Japan. Holcim's departure also cost Westport harbour and Buller Electricity their major customer.

- Westport News

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 25 May 2017 04:28:28 Processing Time: 316ms