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City approaches POAL on waterfront properties

Wednesday 10 March 2004

Auckland City approaches Ports of Auckland on waterfront properties

Following an approach from Auckland City, Ports of Auckland has begun preliminary discussions on the possible future sale of some of its waterfront properties.

The discussions centre on the properties referred to by Auckland City in their media release today.

"Auckland City has approached us and we are prepared to consider the Council's suggestions. But the discussions are very preliminary," said Chief Executive Geoff Vazey.

"We will need to consider the sale of any properties on a case by case basis. The Company has made no decision to sell the assets involved - either in the short or long term. While a tender process is under way for the Westhaven and Hobson West Marinas, a sale will still depend on offers received.

"Several of the properties are working wharves and are fully committed to the ongoing core business of cargo handling and for the cruise ship industry," Mr Vazey said.

"Auckland City's interest will not affect our current use of these wharves and the services we offer."

Mr Vazey welcomed Auckland City's recognition that ensuring that the port is able to well service import and export trade with the world into the future is an important aspect of waterfront development. "That makes good sense as the commercial port underpins much of Auckland's economic activity and growth," Mr Vazey said.

The assets in which Auckland City has expressed interest are:

- The area west of the Harbour Bridge, referred to by the Council as the Harbour Bridge Park. This area, along with Westhaven Drive, is not included in the marinas' sale.

- The Western Reclamation, or tank farm, referred to by Auckland City as Wynyard Point. This area includes Wynyard Wharf, which is currently an important facility for bulk liquid imports.

- The Western Viaduct, which includes part of the area of the America's Cup syndicates.

- Hobson Wharf, which is the wharf area under the New Zealand National Maritime Museum.

- Princes Wharf, which remains a cruise ship wharf and houses the Overseas Passenger Terminal and other cruise ship facilities.

- Possibly in the long term, Queens Wharf, which is part of Ports of Auckland's cargo-handling area. It is currently a busy facility, handling imported vehicles and much of the nation's bananas, and acting as a backup cruise ship berth.

In respect of the Westhaven and Hobson West Marinas, Auckland City has advised its intention to participate in the tender process.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer's report on Westhaven Marina ownership

Mr Vazey welcomed the report by Sir Geoffrey Palmer confirming that ownership of Westhaven Marina lies with Ports of Auckland. The report, also released today, was commissioned by Auckland City.

"Ownership was never in doubt from our point of view. We welcomed Sir Geoffrey's investigation because confirmation of our legal advice by an independent third party at such a high level will serve to dispel any doubts," Mr Vazey said.

Sir Geoffrey said: "The 1988 reform package directed the Port Company to act as a successful business. Allowing the sale and acquisition of assets depending on the changing circumstances and demands of the port business was one of the central objectives of the reform package. Ports of Auckland own the assets and they can sell them."

End


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