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Grid buyback essential if foreign owners go under

30 September 2008

Grid buyback essential if foreign owners go under

The Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to buy back the South Island electricity grid if Wachovia Bank - which effectively owns the grid - collapses as expected.

"The repurchase of this key strategic asset is exactly what the New Zealand Superannuation Fund should be investing in, rather than gambling on fragile international money markets," Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

"Our Government should never have allowed its state owned enterprise, Transpower, to flog off the South Island electricity grid to an American-owned bank, but now we have an opportunity to return it into New Zealand ownership.

"Transpower sold the South Island high voltage transmission grid in a secretive and complex, tax-driven lease in 2003. The deal gave Wachovia a 100-year lease, in an arrangement that is routed through the Cayman Islands, a tax haven.

"Now Wachovia is in serious financial trouble and is expected to be the next American bank to collapse.

"If this happens, the Superannuation Fund should buy this key strategic asset back," Ms Kedgley says.

"The pending collapse of Wachovia Bank shows the folly of flogging off key strategic assets to private foreign owners, and of putting short term profitability ahead of the long term stability of key strategic assets."


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