Selling at last

National’s policy to sell, or partially sell, a few state owned assets was forecast before the 2008 election when John Key made it clear no assets would be sold in the first term and any proposal to sell anything in the second term would be part of the election campaign.

It became a big part of the 2011 campaign, not just because national campaigned on the policy of selling minority shares in a few energy companies but even more because opposition parties campaigned so hard against the policy.

National won, the opposition lost but continued to campaign against the policy.

Like their election campaign that will get them nowhere.

The court ruling against the Maori Council’s bid to stop the sales cleared the way for the sales process and the government has lost no time in getting it under way.

Prime Minister John Key today confirmed the Government will offer the public up to 49 per cent of Mighty River Power in the second quarter of this year – subject to market conditions.

“This will begin tomorrow, with the opening of the process for investors to pre-register their interest in finding out more about the Mighty River Power share offer,” says Mr Key.

The Supreme Court last week dismissed challenges by the Māori Council and others to the Government’s sale of a minority shareholding in Mighty River Power. This follows the High Court reaching the same decision late last year.

“It means we can now proceed with offering a minority share in Mighty River Power.

“The Government’s share offer programme is an important policy. It is expected to free up $5-7 billion that we can then invest in other assets such as modern schools and hospitals, without having to borrow in volatile overseas markets,” says Mr Key.

“Under the share offer programme, New Zealanders will be at the front of the queue. They will have an opportunity to invest in big Kiwi companies at a time when they are telling us they want to diversify their savings away from property, bank deposits and finance companies.”

Cabinet today made a number of decisions about the timing and details of the Mighty River IPO.

These include:

  • The Order-in-Council decision was taken to remove Mighty River Power from the SOE Act.
  • A pre-registration process for New Zealand retail investors interested in finding out more about Mighty River Power shares will open tomorrow (5 March 2013) and run though until 22 March, around three weeks.
  • The offer period is expected to open in mid-April and run for three weeks. The share offer document will be available at that time.
  • Details of a loyalty bonus for New Zealand retail investors will be announced before the offer period starts.
  • When the offer period closes, the institutional book-build takes place. Ministers then make share pricing and allocation decisions.
  • We then expect that Mighty River Power will list on the sharemarket.

“My expectation is that, subject to market conditions, this process will be completed in mid-May, most likely before the Budget,” says Mr Key.

“The Mighty River Power share offer has been designed to achieve widespread New Zealand ownership. We envisage that, with the Government’s majority shareholding, total New Zealand ownership will be 85-90 per cent of the company after the share offer.

“From the Government’s perspective it makes sense to use this opportunity to reorganise the Government’s assets and redeploy capital to priority areas without having to borrow more.

“We intend to make it as easy as possible for New Zealanders to get access to information, register their interest and apply for Mighty River Power shares.”

Today Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned enterprises Minister Tony Ryall will officially launch the pre-registration period for New Zealanders who are interested in finding out more about the Mighty River Power share offer.

 . . . Mr English says the initial public offering of up to 49 per cent of the Government-owned power company is an opportunity for New Zealanders, including those who have not owned shares before, to invest in the stockmarket.

. . . Pre-registration will allow New Zealand retail investors who are interested in finding out more about Mighty River Power shares to register their interest.

“Tomorrow will also see the start of a substantial advertising and communications campaign covering television, print and online media which will raise awareness of the IPO, and tell people how to pre-register,” Mr English says.

“That campaign will include a strong investor education element for those unfamiliar with the sharemarket. We strongly recommend investors obtain their own independent financial advice”

Ministers also announced today that they expect that the share offer document will be lodged shortly after the pre-registration period ends and that there will be a three-week offer period.

At the end of that, the book-building process will take place before ministers decide on the share price and the allocation of shares. Those decisions will include how the shares will be allocated between New Zealanders and overseas shareholders.

The Government expects this process to be completed in mid-May.

The share offer had been designed to put New Zealanders first, Mr Ryall says.

“Mighty River Power will apply to be listed on the NZX main board. We expect that its primary stock exchange listing will be in New Zealand.

“We also expect it to have a secondary listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. There is nothing at all unusual about this – eight of the 10 largest New Zealand listed companies are already dual listed in Australia.

“There is a balance to be struck here. On the one hand, we have given New Zealanders an absolute commitment that Kiwis will be at the front of the queue for shares.

“On the other hand, we want to ensure there is enough tension in the share price for investors. A secondary listing in Australia will help to achieve that.

“Another point worth noting is that some Australian institutions, under their own investment mandates, would not be able to invest in Mighty River Power unless it was also listed in Australia.”

Mr Ryall says the website for pre-registration and for the share offer itself has been designed to restrict people from outside New Zealand from participating.

However, the IPO will be open to certain institutional offshore investors because that will help ensure New Zealand taxpayers get the best price for the shares being sold. Ministers expect around 85-90 per cent of shares to be held by New Zealanders after the share offer.

Other decisions confirmed today include:

  • The minimum application for shares will be $1000, increasing in $100 increments.
  • New Zealanders applying for up to $2000 worth of shares will not be scaled back if the IPO is over-subscribed.
  • A loyalty bonus will apply for New Zealand retail investors who keep their shares for a minimum period. The terms of that bonus will be announced before the share offer opens.

I’m not purporting to be a financial advisor but I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is on this.

I think the partial sale will be good for the company, good for the country and good for all shareholders – the private ones who buy up to 49% of the shares which will be for sale and the government which will retain at least 51% of the shares.

2 Responses to Selling at last

  1. Neil says:

    I suspect there will be a huge demand for these shares.
    Put simply, there are millions of dollars sitting in bank accounts without a long term home.
    Interest rates are poor so the yields on shares in most cases are higher than fixed interest.
    Clayton Cosgrove,Labour’s soe man, says it’s the wrong time. Well, the NZSE went up 25% last year. If anything the market is currently a bith frothy and overbought.

  2. Cadwallader says:

    The pre-registration process is busy but a breeze to work through. I note the Stuff Page poll had interested buyers at over 60%. How wrong can Shearer and the Greens be?

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