Govt sets Genesis share price

Last updated 19:03 28/03/2014

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The Government has set a price of $1.55 for Genesis Energy shares, which go on sale tomorrow.

The Crown is set to raise $736 million from the sale of 49 percent of the electricity power and gas retailer.

Finance Minister Bill English said already $620m had been committed through the bookbuild, which was the first stage of the share offer.

At that price the shares will yield a gross dividend of 14.3 per cent, he said.

The Genesis sale will take  the proceeds from the four state asset share offers  to $4.7 billion.

"This is within the Treasury's latest estimate of between $4.6 billion and $5 billion across the entire programme," State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said. 

Up to 55 per cent of the Genesis shares are  expected to be sold to New Zealanders.

"From tomorrow, New Zealanders can apply for these shares in three ways; via a sharebroker, online or by using the paper application form accompanying the Investment Statement,"  English said.

Ryall said the share offer had been a success "by every measure" - but the Green Party tonight labelled the process a shambles.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said at $736m, the Government had fallen billions of dollars short of Prime Minister John Key's initial estimate of up to $10 billion from asset sales, or even the $5b to $7b  target it later set. 

“National should have listened to the people of New Zealand and cancelled the asset sales. John Key’s legacy as a prime minister will be that he ignored overwhelming public opposition to pursue his failed policy of selling our assets,” Norman said.

“Mr Key said asset sales would raise as much as $10 billion; they’ve raised just $4.7 billion. Mr Key said that the asset sales would cost $100 million; so far, they’ve cost $550 million.

The Government had also fallen short on its prediction that of up to 250,000 "mum and dad" investors for each sale.

 "Kiwis refused to buy what they already own and most of the retail shares went to a wealthy few," Norman said.

 “The taxpayer has already lost $147 million in dividends from the shares that have been sold. The lost dividends from our assets will leave a $150 million-a-year hole in the government’s accounts forever."

But English said the proportion of mum and dad investors was "about what we expected" and the Government had stayed true to its promise that the 85 per cent of the assets would remain in Kiwi hands.

"[We] always allowed for a proportion of off-shore ownership, particularly as a way of creating some price competition with New Zealand institutions."

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That had ensured a return that gave value to taxpayers.

He believed most Kiwi "mums and dads" would consider the programme a success.

"It was never sold to them as a package that might raise $10 billion. There's been a growing understanding that the paranoia from the opposition has been overdone; we're getting pretty close to the end of this programme; the sky hasn't fallen in."

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said the last of the assets sales was "yet another fire sale".

 “It is now official: National’s asset sales policy has failed. At the last election John Key promised Kiwis the sales would raise between $5 billion and $7 billion.

“Selling Genesis off at $1.55 a share will raise little more than $700 million, leaving John Key more than $300 million short of his $5 billion to $7 billion asset sales target. That’s failure by any standards, especially given Morningstar valued 50 per cent of Genesis at $900 million."

 “The brokerage, legal and PR fees run into well over $100 million."

Cosgrove said just nine per cent of shares from the Government's asset sales programme had gone to "mum and dad investors" - meaning  the Government had broken its promise to put them at the front of the queue.

 "The rest are going to institutions here and overseas."

- Fairfax Media

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