Kiwibank sale ruled out - for now

Last updated 16:30 03/06/2010

John Key comments on KiwiBank in Waimakariri electorate

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The Government has ''no intention'' of selling Kiwibank, Prime Minister John Key says.

Key said today that he stood by a comment he made during the 2008 election campaign that Kiwibank would never be sold.

''We've got no intentions of selling it. Our position is that we won't be selling any assets this term.

''We'll come back in before the election in 2011 if there's any change in that position, in terms of SOEs,'' Key said.

Key said he made some ''fairly categoric'' statements during the election campaign.

''I stand by those statements,'' he said.

This is despite yesterday refusing to rule out the sale in Parliament, when pressed by Progressive leader Jim Anderton.

Key was reminded by Anderton of a comment he made during the election campaign, when he told Campbell Live:

"We won't be selling Kiwibank...I've ruled it out.''

Key told Parliament that he only said that it was not the Government's policy to sell assets this term.

"We will come back in the second term with our policy then."

But Key told The Press during a visit to the Waimakariri electorate today that he stood by the statements he made during the election campaign.

"I stand by those statements. We won't be selling it,'' Key said.

He rejected suggestions his view on Kiwibank had changed.

The comments follow recent comments by Finance Minister Bill English, who told a business audience in Christchurch the day after the Budget last month that the Government was considering partial state asset sales - including Kiwibank.

A good example was Kiwibank, English said. 

''It seems to me, and I have checked this, that there is a strong demand among the mums and dads for a Kiwi investment model and if we put product into the market people would buy it. Would I be right about that?''

It had got to a size where it needed either a government guarantee or ''an awful lot of capital''. If there was any asset that was regarded as risky by credit ratings agencies it was a rapidly growing bank.

''So one option would be to go to the market and raise capital. So keep crown ownership, majority crown ownership and raise the rest of the capital from the market. So who'd buy into that

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power told a select committee yesterday that he had not requested or received any advice from the Treasury about selling off Kiwibank or other state-owned enterprises.

National has repeatedly said it will not sell assets in its first term and says it will be upfront with voters about any it might consider selling before seeking a second term.

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The partial float of state-owned enterprises was one of the key recommendations of a Capital Markets Task Force, which said the Government could retain its ownership stake while seeking new equity to fund growth.

- The Press

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