Northland has more to gain than lose by selling a nearly 20 percent stake in the Northland Port Corporation to the Ports of Auckland, a business analyst says.
The Northland Regional Council wants to sell 19.9 percent of Northland Port Corp to the Ports of Auckland in a deal that would net the council close to $24 million.
If the deal went ahead the NRC would still own a controlling 52.2 percent shareholding in the Port Corp, with the public owning the remaining shares.
Business commentator and share analyst Brian Gaynor said the sale could benefit Northland as it would likely mean more ships, and cargo, for Northport - the company running the deep water port at Marsden Pt, which is a joint Port Corp and Port of Tauranga venture.
"As far as Northland is concerned the NRC will still hold 52 percent of shares and still have effective control of the company," Mr Gaynor said. "That sort of reduction in shareholding will make little difference to the council's ability to control the company so that shouldn't be a problem, as long as they retain that majority shareholding."
He said Northland had far more to gain from the deal, if it went ahead, than it stood to lose. Mr Gaynor said the Ports of Auckland, which is a far bigger company than the Port Corp, could try to "muscle in" to a more powerful position on the board of Port Corp, but that was unlikely to happen.
"{They could muscle in if the Port Corp had a weak board, but Mike Daniel (Port Corp chairman) has a fairly strong board up there and they are not the sort of people that would be mucked around," he said.
Mr Gaynor said Ports of Auckland had some problems, particularly with congestion, and with Port of Tauranga taking away some of its major customers.
"What (Ports of) Auckland would like to do is have an interest in another port so that some of the activity that might be coming to Auckland can be directed to Northland," he said.
"It's likely that vessels and cargo that were to have gone to Auckland will go to Marsden Pt and create more business for Northland. Auckland could use Marsden Pt as an export point for some of its cargo and this deal has given them a seat at the table to start negotiating.
"I don't think there will be a big impact (from the deal) in the short term, but the long term prospects for Northland Port Corp are very good if this deal goes ahead."
Mr Daniel welcomed the possible partnership with Ports of Auckland as positive for the region.
While the corporation's board had not discussed the issue, he could see ``no negatives at all'' with its nearest neighbour taking such a stake in the company.
"I'd much rather have Auckland on board than not," he said. "I'm sure Auckland will steer products through our ports which are not necessarily easy to ship from their port."
Mr Daniel said Auckland's vehicle imports took up a lot of space on the "expensive land" the company owned in central Auckland and he could see Marsden Pt, with its associated 180 hectares of land, getting some of that business.
"Cars take up a lot of land. We have so much land at Marsden Pt, where it would seem to be cheaper to put them on our real estate than their expensive real estate," he said.
Copies of a statement of proposal about the deal are available from all Northland Regional Council offices and written submissions close at 5pm on December 13.