One of the world's richest men is eyeing a role in the redevelopment of Auckland, says mayor Len Brown.
Brown, who has been criticised for jetting off to the United States on a seven-day, ratepayer-funded business trip, has responded by detailing an "amazing" half-hour meeting with Michael Bloomberg - the business mogul and former New York City mayor worth an estimated $50 billion.
According to Brown, the upshot was Bloomberg personally expressing interest in helping shape the modernisation of New Zealand's biggest city. And that could include help fixing the city's transport woes.
"Michael is one of the richest people in the world and he and his team are showing a specific interest in wanting to work closely with Auckland as a city that is going through transformation," Brown told the Herald on Sunday from Los Angeles.
"It's a city they see as sustainable and sharing the same types of values and city-building philosophies as he had as mayor of New York for over 12 years.
"That will be to the benefit of Auckland and also, I suspect, to the benefit of Bloomberg. I think it could be an outstanding corporate relationship."
Brown said a partnership could be used to target Auckland's biggest infrastructure problem - transport. And, Brown says, it would come at no cost to ratepayers.
"They might become involved with our public transport investment, or best design around shared spaces which they have a lot of experience in from New York," he said.
"He spends a large part of his fortune on charitable matters and the work he does in sustainable cities is contributed free.
"For example, if he were to attach himself formally to Auckland and help us out on one or two key areas, his advice and the advice of his expert staff would not cost us a cent."
Bloomberg Associates confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that Auckland was on their radar, but said no deal was immediately on the table.
"We respect the work being done in Auckland and their broader goals and objectives, but there are no plans to engage with them in any formal way at this time," a spokesperson said.