Wealthy grabbed big MRP share

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2013

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A small number of wealthy investors including businesses and trusts snapped up nearly half the Mighty River Power shares set aside for retail buyers, sparking accusations the Government's sales pitch about selling to "mum and dad investors" was a cynical ploy.

An analysis of the partial float reveals that 101,000 "mum and dad" shareholders were allocated just 13.4 per cent of the former state- owned enterprise. Roughly the same amount went to a much smaller group of wealthy investors, charities, businesses and superannuation funds.

The figures, confirmed by Treasury, show that of the 113,000 retail investors who paid $912 million for shares at $2.50 each, 12,844 buyers who represented the top 10.9 per cent bought roughly half the retail pool. They invested an average $34,618.

Of those, a select sub- group of 394 investors bought $90m worth of shares in parcels of more than 100,000 shares - an average investment of $228,865.

While some were wealthy individuals, they included companies, superannuation funds, trusts, boutique investment firms, funds from deceased estates, sports clubs, small businesses and charities.

The remaining 101,000 small investors took the other half - equivalent to 13.4 per cent of the company - at an average investment of $4600.

Green co-leader Russel Norman said the figures showed that the Government was of the "0.2 per cent who were the beneficiaries of the sell-down".

"The rhetoric of mums and dads investors was a cynical political ploy by National when we see the concentration of ownership in such a small number of hands."

"The long and short of it is, when you live in a grossly unequal country, when you sell assets like this then only those at the very top, who were the recipients of National's massive tax cuts, could afford to buy these shares.

He said the 101,000 who bought an average $4600 worth of shares got about the same amount in total as the 13.5 per cent of the company sold to foreign institutional investors.

"It shows what this Government really did - transfer ownership to a small number of very wealthy people and to foreign shareholders."

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- Fairfax Media

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