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Asset sales round two - another energy company

Published: 12:13PM Sunday May 12, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Government is not ruling out selling Air New Zealand shares this year but says its next float will be an energy company.

The Government has just floated 49% of Mighty River Power, with more than 100,000 Kiwis buying shares in the state-owned power company, giving the Government $1.7 billion.

Mighty River Power is the first of four state-owned enterprises slated for sell down under a Government policy to raise as much as $7 billion to repay debt and seed its Future Investment Fund.

The Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Tony Ryall, told TVNZ's Q+A programme details of the next float would be announced in the Budget on Thursday.

"I can tell you one thing, it is an energy company," Ryall said.

"And I would expect that New Zealanders would have an opportunity to buy shares in that company, minority shares, around about October."

Ryall said he could not rule out the Government selling more shares in Air New Zealand this year.

"Ministers are going to consider the Air New Zealand shareholding in the next few weeks and then we'll take advice and make a decision on that," he said.

Ryall was asked by political editor Corin Dann if it was possible we could see Air New Zealand as "the number three" float this year, if conditions were right.

"Look, you'd have to look at some very favourable conditions for the Government to get a number of floats away after this one. We haven't yet made a decision on the Air New Zealand timing," the Minister replied.

Of the 113,000 shareholders in Mighty River Power, 77,000 are new investors, and Ryall said first time investors may have an opportunity with Air New Zealand as well.

He said the Government's objectives remain the same with Air New Zealand as with the energy companies - as widespread New Zealand ownership as possible.

The Minister declined to say how many investors the Government is expecting to attract for its next energy company float.

Paddle protest

Meanwhile, today a group of about 20 members of the Mana Party and Waikato-Tainui paddled down the Waikato River from Hamilton to Ngaruawahia as part of a flotilla in a protest against the sale of state assets.

Mana leader Hone Harawira said the sale of shares in Mighty River Power gives the opponents even more ammunition to stand up for the assets to be retained by the Government.

He said once Mighty River Power was privatised, the company would use whatever resources were available to maximise the profit, forgetting about the people and the significance of the Waikato River.

Mighty River Power has nine hydro power stations on the Waikato River.