22 Jul 2009

Ministers insist Meridian not being prepared for sale

4:00 pm on 22 July 2009

Government ministers deny New Zealand's largest electricity company is being readied for privatisation.

Media reports have said Meridian Energy is being prepared for sale but Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power deny this.

Meridian says it is reviewing its economic practices with the help of the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The energy company says the review predates an order from Government for all State Owned Enterprises to lift their game.

That directive came in April, when ministers revealed on average their earnings were just 1.5% of equity, later upgraded to 2.4%, but still way below commercial rates of return.

The figures came as a financially-pressed Government looked to earn more from State Owned Enterprises without breaking a pledge not to raise electricity prices.