21 Nov 2013

Opposition says assets sale programme a flop

9:46 am on 21 November 2013

Opposition parties are declaring the partial asset sales programme a flop, with both investors and taxpayers missing out.

Shares in partially sold assets are having a bumpy ride on the market and Labour is predicting investors will be put off buying shares in the Genesis Energy next year.

The Government sold 221 million shares in Air New Zealand on Tuesday for $1.65 but by Wednesday night they were trading at $1.56.

Mighty River Power shares hit a new low before closing at $2.10 well down on their May sale price of $2.50 while Meridian stock closed at $1, the price at which the shares were sold.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says investors have so far lost lost money in the Government's partial asset sale programme.

Labour Party state owned enterprises spokesman Clayton Cosgrove says the sell off is a disaster for the Government and for investors who had "taken a bath" on the shares.

But Finance Minister Bill English says people who invest in shares are in it for the longer haul and the benefits that brings.

"The return on the shares is not the value of the share on any given day, it's the dividend that's going to be paid."

Mr English said if share prices had gone up the Government would have been accused of selling the shares too cheaply.