Infratil reports $17 million loss

Wellington-based Infratil has reported a loss of $17 million for the six months to September, after it wrote down the value of its British Airports and other assets.

Last year the company posted a $50m surplus for the same period.

Wellington-based Infratil said TrustPower, Wellington Airport, its Australian energy business and Z Energy, saw increased earnings over the same period a year ago.

NZ Bus, which operates public transport in Wellington and Auckland saw a drop which it blamed on an unflattering comparison to last year, which included Rugby World Cup.

''In an environment of low growth and vigorous competition these were pleasing outcomes and reflect good positioning and management,'' Infratil said in a statement to the NZX.

Last week Infratil revealed it was taking a $43.9m impairment on its airports in Kent and Ayrshire in the west of Scotland, as it struggles to find a buyer. It said it would continue to market the assets.

Despite the fall in profits, Infratil said it would pay shareholders a dividend of 3.25 cents, an 8 per cent increase over a year ago, payable to shareholders on the register on November 30.

Excluding asset write-downs, Infratil delivered profit of $56m during the period, ahead of the same time a year ago.

The company said it looked at an increasing number of possible businesses for sale during the period but no deals were concluded, and hinted that it was being outbid by eager buyers.

''Investors without choices and facing an extremely low interest rate environment are more willing to ''pay up'', even if it means then being locked into low returns.''

Earlier this year TrustPower began work on the $550m Snowtown II windfarm in South Australia, which Infratil said is the single largest project it has ever undertaken.

TrustPower, which Infratil majority owns, has said it may be more than a decade before there is enough new demand to make significant new projects worthwhile in New Zealand. Shares in Infratil closed at $2.175 last night.

Contact Hamish Rutherford
Business reporter
Twitter: @oneforthedr

The Dominion Post