7 Mar 2013

Directors paid $1200 a day ahead of share float

10:37 pm on 7 March 2013

The directors of State-owned energy company Mighty River Power have been allocated nearly $360,000 to prepare the initial public offering.

Mighty River chairperson Joan Withers and chief executive Doug Heffernan appeared before the Commerce select committee at Parliament on Thursday for the company's annual review.

The company is about to undergo a partial public share float. Ms Withers confirmed to the select committee that directors are being paid $1200 a day for their work on the initial offering.

She told MPs the full budget for directors to oversee the work until the end of this financial year is $358,000, but it is likely that it will be under-spent.

The session was tense as Labour Party MPs tried to ask questions about the company with the committee chair frequently trying to shut them down, citing worries that the Securities Act could be breached.

The committee rejected a request by Labour MP David Clark to have the review held over until Mighty River Power answered questions that other State-owned enterprises have answered.

Mr Clark then addressed Dough Heffernan about the matter, asking why the company did not answer written question put to it.

He suggested Mr Heffernan was trying to be too clever by not answering the questions.

"The answer that you have supplied is, this is not applicable to Mighty River Power, as Mighty River Power is not a department, ministry, or associated agency.

"You can see how that could be characterised as a kind of smart-arse answer by someone being uncharitable with their language."

Mr Heffernan replied: "Yeah, it could be" and told the committee it should restructure the questions so they address State-owned enterprises.