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NRC Approves $24m Port Corp Share Sale

NRC Approves $24m Port Corp Share Sale

The Northland Regional Council has approved in principle the proposed sale of a 19.9 percent stake in the Northland Port Corporation to Ports of Auckland Limited in a deal worth almost $24 million. A unanimous decision to proceed with the proposed sale was made at a special full Council meeting in Whangarei today (Weds 15 December) and comes after Councillors spent yesterday hearing 69 public submissions on the proposal.

Council Chairman Mark Farnsworth says almost two-thirds of submitters supported the proposed sale, which Councillors believe will offer improved financial security and a valuable ally in Northland’s efforts to improve infrastructure like roading and rail.

Mr Farnsworth says despite the proposed sale, the Council will retain a majority 52.4 percent shareholding in the port corporation, which in turn owns 50% of Marsden Pt deepwater port operator Northport Limited. He says a common theme of many submissions was that the public wanted to see the Council continue to maintain a majority shareholding in what they saw as a valuable strategic asset.

“To that end, the Council is considering the options available to prevent its 52.4% shareholding from being diluted further through any new issue of shares by port corporation directors without Council approval.”

Following the share sale, the money will initially be deposited in short-term investments.

Mr Farnsworth says a final decision on the ultimate fate of the money will be made next year – and only after input from the Northland community – as part of the Council’s Annual Plan process.

He says Councillors were impressed with the quality of submissions made during a one-month public consultation period on the sale proposal.

“I’d like to express Council’s thanks to all those who took the time to make detailed, well thought out submissions.”

Meanwhile, Mr Farnsworth says the Council’s formal acceptance of Ports of Auckland’s offer is awaiting the outcome of inquiries by the Takeovers Panel, which is currently investigating a complaint regarding the proposed sale.

“Council has provided the Panel with information it requested and expects to know the outcome of its inquiries later this week.”

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