Air New Zealand shares have fallen 5 cents this morning to $1.60 each, a fall of three per cent.

Shares in the airline have resumed trading this morning after being placed in a trading halt while the Government sold down its majority stake.

Prime Minister John Key said overnight he was hopeful of hitting the $5 billion mark for the Government's state asset sale programme after the Air NZ share sell off.

Mr Key made the comment in Thailand, where he's just ended a trade visit.


The $1.65 per share sale price for Air New Zealand has been described by one fund manager as a good result for the Government.

Finance Minister Bill English yesterday announced the Government had sold its 20 per cent stake in the national carrier for $365 million.

The $1.65 per share price tag was in line with Friday's closing share price indicating strong demand for the offer. Share sell-downs are typically done at a discount to the last trading price.

Mark Warminger, a fund manager at Milford Asset Management, said it was a good result for the Government and its investment bankers.

"In terms of shareholders I would have liked to have seen it priced closer to $1.60."

Warminger, whose firm was a buyer of the shares, said a lower price would have left more upside potential for investors.

New Zealand institutional investors received the biggest chunk of the shares at 43 per cent while retail investors were allocated 41 per cent. International institutions got just 16 per cent.

Warminger said it was good news that New Zealand institutional investors had been looked after as that had not happened with the previous asset sell-downs.


He believed many retail investors would have been turned off by the fact it was an airline.

"I think airlines are polarising. You either like them or stay away."

English said three-quarters of the way through the Government's partial asset sales programme, the Government had "met our commitments to New Zealanders being at the front of the queue in achieving a minimum 85 per cent New Zealand ownership of the companies".

The Government will retain 53 per cent of Air New Zealand with a total of 88 per cent of the company owned by New Zealanders at the point of sale.

A trading halt in the company is due to lift this morning. Air New Zealand's sale puts the Government's total proceeds from its asset sale programme at $3.93 billion with only Genesis Energy left to partially privatise.

John Key said the 20 per cent of Air NZ shares the Government sold had done well, which showed how much demand there was from New Zealand investors and institutions.

He expected the asset sales programme to get near the lower $5 billion figure of the $5-7 billion estimate the Government had originally place on it, even without Solid Energy.

"My guess is by the time we get through Genesis, we'll be pretty close to that $5 billion." He said if Solid Energy was in a fit state to be sold and worth anything near the $2 - 3 billion it was originally valued it, the sales programme would have reached more than $6 billion.

"So I think the programme is going well."

- additional reporting Adam Bennett