Every Hawke's Bay household is being asked to have their say on how to best fund the Port of Napier's future growth.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council believes floating up to 49% of the port on New Zealand's exchange is the best option for the region.
This is because Napier's port is at a tipping point – it needs funding to grow, and it needs it now. Partially listing on the NZX would enable Hawke's Bay residents to maintain majority ownership and control of the port, while allowing the council to efficiently access capital to fund its growth.
70,000 of you will have a say in this process so it is important to understand the benefits of listing the port.
As an exchange we play a role in connecting businesses and investors. NZX is well placed to help effectively enable the investment the port needs to grow, while maintaining regional majority ownership.
One of the key benefits of undertaking a partial listing is access to capital to fund growth but there are a number of other benefits.
Being part of New Zealand's public market, will require the port to inform its investors on financial performance, shareholder returns, and its progress against its environmental, social and governance agenda. It can also facilitate access to further growth capital if required.
Listing also provides Hawke's Bay locals and port staff with an opportunity to directly invest in one of the region's key strategic assets. There is plenty of evidence that the discipline of being part of the public markets sharpens management focus and delivers better business performance.
As well as accessing capital to fund future growth, being listed increases the awareness and creditability of a business among its customers, suppliers and the wider public. A new wharf would continue to put Hawke's Bay on the map allowing easier access to larger cruise ships who want to experience the fine food and wine and art deco architecture of the region.
This increased tourism creates jobs and wealth for local residents, and are iconic aspects of the region we want to keep developing for the good of the broader economy. It also goes the other way increasing the port's capability to offer businesses within the region the ability to export straight from Hawke's Bay.
It's not uncommon for councils to list partial assets to fund growth.
The Port of Tauranga listed 45% of its business in 1992. Since then the port has returned more than $700 million in dividends to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, plus the dividends that have gone to local shareholders.
On listing, the port raised $21 million to fund growth and over the past 26 years imports and exports out of the port have increased by more than 280%.
This is an important decision.
A partial listing will enable the funding needed, it allows the council to maintain control, and provides you will an opportunity to invest in a core community asset. We understand that joining a public market is a significant decision but it is one which hundreds of New Zealand businesses have benefited greatly from.