17 May 2013

English hopes Meridian sale will be less political

5:25 pm on 17 May 2013

Finance Minister Bill English does not expect the partial sale of Meridian Energy to be as politically fraught as the Mighty River Power offering.

The sale of 49% of Mighty River Power was hit by court challenges over water rights, uncertainty over the future of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in Southland and plans by the Labour and Green parties to install a state agency to set prices in the energy sector.

Shares in Mighty River began trading on 10 May after the Government sold 49% for $1.7 billion.

Mr English said on Friday the float of Meridian Energy would be substantially larger than Mighty River and hoped New Zealand investors would focus on the merits of the offer.

He expects it will be less contentious than Mighty River.

Mr English is not concerned about the uncertainty over the future of the Southland smelter, which is Meridian's biggest customer, saying investors know there is risk of the smelter closing in the future.

Meridian Energy is scheduled to be publicly listed by the end of this year.