21 Sep 2015

Waikato Tainui moots Solid asset buy

8:18 pm on 21 September 2015

Waikato Tainui says it is considering buying the Waikato assets of Solid Energy.

Rahui Papa

Rahui Papa Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Creditors of Solid Energy have voted to sell off the assets to try to pay back some of its $400 million debt.

Chairman of the Tainui Executive, Te Arataura, Rahui Papa said the sell-down would trigger its 1995 Waitangi Treaty Settlement which gave it first right of refusal on surplus crown assets.

But he said a business case would be prepared and due diligence undertaken before any decision was made.

"Because we understand Solid Energy are in voluntary administration at the moment and the effects and the reasons of why that has come to pass and so we'd have to weigh that up with the economic, cultural and employment benefits for the people that are currently employed and those that are going to be possibly employed in the future."

Mr Papa said they had had initial discussions with Solid Energy about the assets, including the Huntly East Mine, which employs a number of Tainui people.

He said Tainui was currently getting advice on whether its settlement had already been triggered by Solid Energy going into voluntary administration.

Mr Papa said they hoped to consider the advice at a board meeting on Friday.

He said it was too early to tell what the price of the assets might be and which assets might be first on the block and if Tainui decides against purchasing the assets, they can then go on the general market.