19 May 2009

Infratil scales back investment plans, declares $191m loss

7:19 am on 19 May 2009

Shares in infrastructure investor Infratil slid 4% on Monday as the infrastructure investor posted a loss, and repeated it would focus on boosting earnings and scale back investment plans to help ride out the recession.

The company posted a loss of $191 million in the year to the end of March.

Most of that came from writing down $179 million of investments in the likes of Auckland Airport, the company's European airports business and its Australian unit Energy Developments.

In the year to March 2008 the company lost $1.7 million.

Gross operating earnings rose 12% to $356 million, with investments in Trustpower and Wellington Airport making up much of that.

Infratil is selling about $125 million worth of assets this year to reduce debt, which includes Fullers Ferries and some bus depots in Auckland, and its underperforming Luebeck Airport later this year.

It is also scaling back its investment plans, which fell from over $500 million to $300 million last year, and which will drop further to between $105 million and $125 million.

Infratil chief executive Marko Bogoievski says returns from its key assets have shone through and the only area that suffered during the recession was the European airport sector, which he says is a small part of the overall portfolio.

Mr Bogoievski says the company will focus on getting better returns from its existing operations, such as expanding its retail energy operations in Australia.

He says this should boost operating earnings by as as much as 12% to between $375 million and $400 million dollars in the current financial year.

The company has declared an unchanged dividend of 3.75 cents a share.