Ports of Auckland dividends to Auckland ratepayers will be drastically reduced in the next two years as its debt-fuelled investment programme cranks up.
A new report, the port company's latest statement of corporate intent, says its 100 per cent owner, the Auckland Council, is expected to receive dividends of $8.7 million in 2020 and $9.4m in 2021 - compared with the $51m it received in the 2017-2018 financial year.
The dividend is expected to increase again to $64.3m in 2022.
Ports of Auckland's dividend policy has a target to pay out 80 per cent of after-tax profits to its shareholder, the council, providing this policy allows the company to sustain an optimal capital structure.
The much-reduced targets for the next two years translate to a dividend of 20 per cent of after-tax profits "due to the high level of capital investment required to meet Auckland's growing freight needs", said the report.
A "slight" dip in dividends in 2020 and 2021 was signalled earlier this year in a report to the council's finance and performance committee.
The company has increased its debt recently in a bid to increase capacity and better returns, despite its long-term future at its present operations site and ownership being uncertain because of political agendas.
Net debt in the nine months to March 31 rose $117m on the corresponding period last year to nearly $480m.
Net profit after tax in the same period was down $8.4m at $37.6m, compared with the same period last year. Revenue rose $3.3m to $186m, and net assets increased $51.6m to $740m.
The statement report said target net profit in 2020 is $40.1m, $44m in 2021 and $77.3m in 2022.
Return on equity (NPAT/average equity) is targeted to be 5.1 per cent next year, 5.3 per cent in 2021, and 9 per cent in 2022. Return on equity, excluding asset revaluations, is expected to be 7.1 per cent, 7.3 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
The ports company is targeting a 4.9 per cent increase in revenue next year, an 18.7 per cent rise in 2021 and 13.1 per cent up in 2022.
The company said its assessed market equity value based on an external review in December 2013 was $1.1 billion.
Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones of NZ First has called for the ports' operations to be moved north to Whangārei to boost Northland's economic development.
Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere wants the ports' company's business privatised to spare the city's ratepayers a financial burden.