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Ports of Auckland continues investment for future

Ports of Auckland continues investment for the future

Ports of Auckland today announced significant new investment in capacity and capability with a commitment to purchase over $30 million of new cargo handling equipment.

This new plant together with existing major infrastructure developments - including the Wiri Inland Port and the Fergusson terminal extension - ensures Ports of Auckland is well placed to efficiently manage the ongoing increases in container volume throughput.

Ports of Auckland has ordered three new gantry cranes, four new straddle carriers, and is looking to purchase additional new straddle carriers. The Company has just taken delivery of a new $520,000 container fork truck for its general cargo wharves.

Chief Executive Geoff Vazey said: “The new plant will help achieve the productivity enhancements and customer service levels required for competitive strength and growth.”

The 103m high, 1150-tonne ZPMC container gantry cranes, due to arrive in early 2007, are faster and have more lifting capacity than the port’s existing gantry cranes. The port takes delivery of the first four new straddle carriers in late January 2006. Like others in the port straddle fleet, the new fuel-efficient machines can lift and move two containers at a time. Auckland is the only New Zealand port with twin-lifting cranes and straddle carriers.

Ports of Auckland anticipates significant business growth over the next five to ten years that will require continuing investment in plant and land development activities to ensure the Company maintains world class standards of customer service.

To support this investment Ports of Auckland is currently reviewing its funding structure.
Standard & Poor’s has recently completed its annual review of Ports of Auckland. As is usual with a potential change to funding, Standard & Poor’s has placed Ports of Auckland on credit watch while the Company determines its approach to possible debt restructuring programme and its capital structure going forward. Standard & Poor’s has indicated that the extra funding being considered could result in a long term rating 2-3 notches below the current rating. However the report stated: “Ports of Auckland’s strong business profile should continue to underpin the group’s investment grade credit profile”.

Ports of Auckland’s current rating is based on a very conservative debt level. Any final funding package would place Ports of Auckland’s gearing at a typical industry level, and would be designed to match the funding requirements of the business and ensure an appropriate long term capital structure.

ENDS

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