23 Feb 2013

Mighty River international investments 'key to growth'

12:44 pm on 23 February 2013

Mighty River Power says improving its international investments is a key priority for growth, as demand remains flat in New Zealand.

The state-owned power generator, which is expected to be partially privatised in the first half of the year, more than quadrupled its profits to $75.5 million in the six months to December.

Excluding one-off items, Mighty River's underlying profit rose a third to $133 million, due to increasing market share, attracting more business customers and improving margins, bucking the downturn in the electricity market.

The firm's investment in Geo Global Energy cost it $89 million due to delays in projects in Chile and Germany and the company has struck a deal to improve the fortunes of the international business.

Mighty River chief executive Doug Heffernan says it now has greater control of these assets.

He says electricity demand in New Zealand has been flat since 2008, and after the Ngatamariki geothermal development comes on line the company does not anticipate further large scale domestic developments for the next three to five years.

Mr Heffernan says the company has other options offshore, for example in Chile where there is need for more electricity generation and the market is growing at 6% a year.

He says Mighty River is continuing to keep a close eye on Waikato river catchment levels, which for the last three months have been under average levels due to the lack of rain.

However, he says lake levels in the South Island are above average, so electricity supply will not be affected as yet.

The Government will receive a $67 million dividend.