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Govt silent over growing foreign ownership in Meridian

5 December 2013

Govt silent over growing foreign ownership in Meridian

New information suggests that New Zealand ownership of Meridian Energy has now dropped below the Government’s threshold of 85 percent, the Green Party said today.

In the days immediately following the float of Meridian Energy, the Bank of New York Mellon bought five percent of Meridian, making it highly likely that a single overseas buyer has taken New Zealand ownership below the 85 percent limit the National Government set as a minimum for New Zealand ownership. The foreign bank now owns 6.49 percent of Meridian.

“National have known all along that, once the shares in Meridian were sold, they would quickly fall into foreign ownership, just as what happened when they sold Contact,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“Based on its current shareholding numbers, the Bank of New York Mellon will receive $18 million in dividends from Meridian next year, paid for by the power bills of New Zealand families.

“During question time in Parliament today, the Finance Minister was unable to substantiate the current level of foreign ownership in Meridian and whether it had fallen below their 85 percent threshold.

“National’s promise to ensure at least 85 percent New Zealand ownership of the newly privatised state-owned assets is sounding increasingly like empty spin.

“National can do nothing to stop more and more ownership of our strategic assets like Meridian, Mighty River Power, and Air New Zealand falling into overseas hands.

“It’s yet another reason to abandon the sale of Genesis.”


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