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Ownership of KCE changes

Trustpower and King Country Electric Power Trust assume ownership of KCE

As of 2.30pm Thursday 29 March, the majority shareholders of electricity retailer and generator King Country Energy Limited (KCE), Trustpower Limited (Trustpower) and King Country Electric Power Trust (KCEPT), officially assumed full ownership of KCE.

This is the outcome of a joint venture (JV) takeover offer from Trustpower and KCEPT initiated in December 2017, at which time the JV sought to acquire the balance of KCE’s ordinary shares at $5 per share.

In January 2018 an independent committee of the KCE board unanimously recommended remaining shareholders accept the JV takeover offer with the offer price sitting comfortably above the $4.92 share value midpoint.

The offer is now officially closed with the JV now owning 100% of KCE. As part of the JV, Trustpower has exercised its option to acquire KCE’s retail customers. KCE will continue to own and manage the generation assets of the business, which are the Mangahao, Kuratau, Wairere, Mokauiti and Piriaka power stations.

Trustpower’s general manager of customer operations Fiona Smith says “Through April and May, a team of KCE and Trustpower staff will work together to understand the needs of KCE customers and ensure, as we migrate customers to Trustpower, we pay attention to the things that are important.

“We will be writing to customers once the joint approach has been agreed and over the coming months will answer questions about the transition process to Trustpower. It is our ambition to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

“We are also pleased to have taken over responsibility for what was KCE’s Heartland Community Fund, Trees of Light, and 12 Rays of Christmas initiatives.” Mrs Smith says.

“Not only that, we will continue with their Duffy Books in Homes, local netball, Ruapehu Primary School Technology Challenge, Ruapehu School Quiz Night, Westpac Community Pool and Ohakune and Taumarunui Squash Clubs sponsorships.

“For decades KCE has had an exceptionally strong relationship with its customers and communities and it’s our intention to continue that. Trustpower warmly welcomes KCE’s customers and community and looks forward to working with them in what will be an exciting future,” she says.

The JV will also appoint a new KCE board. Changes have already been made and from 29 March the new board will consist of Kevin Palmer and Peter Calderwood, who are Trustpower appointments, and Rob Carter who is a KCEPT appointment. Brian Needham remains connected to the board in a consulting role during the transition process. The chief executive of KCE, Rob Foster, stepped down when the JV reached 90% ownership.

KCE has been consulting with its staff regarding the impact of these events. Part of this consultation process includes KCE working with Trustpower to explore alternative job opportunities for staff, as KCE will no longer need a customer service centre and will have reduced needs for other support staff.

Acting KCE chief executive Chris Fincham says “Although we don’t know exactly numbers today because the consultation process is ongoing, we can say that some of our current staff will be affected by the transition period.

“It’s important to note that we are working closely with Trustpower to secure as many opportunities for those affected as possible before the end of the transition process. There will be opportunities for some staff to continue to work from Taumarunui, while others will have the opportunity to take on employment opportunities in Tauranga or other areas of New Zealand where Trustpower has offices. Any staff changes would occur after customers have been migrated to Trustpower,” he says.

“Understandably, this significant change is unsettling for many staff as it brings uncertainty and lots of questions. We are helping staff through this period by providing CV and job interview training and counselling support.”


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