New blood for council company

The Christchurch City Council's investment arm is set for a rush of new blood with four new councillors to be appointed to the board.

That will see half the board of Christchurch City Holdings (CCHL) change in the next few weeks.

Its role is to monitor and supervise the council's seven trading companies, which include Christchurch Airport, electricity distributor Orion, Lyttelton Port and Red Bus.

Four of the councillors on the CCHL board did not stand for re-election last month. They were former Mayor Bob Parker, and councillors Sue Wells, Tim Carter and Barry Corbett.

But the council has yet to choose their replacements.

CCHL has four councillor directors and four independents and is the only company in the CCHL group on which councillors sit. The seven trading companies have independent directors.

CCHL chairman Bruce Irvine told the annual meeting in Christchurch yesterday the body welcomed the review of its structure, announced last week by new council finance committee chairman Raf Manji.

Irvine said directors on CCHL would agree it was different from five and 10 years ago.

"I think it's more than appropriate that we have a look at ourselves and have another review and see whether or not we can improve or finesse what we are doing and what we are about.

"So CCHL would welcome that review, and would be a very happy participant in that process."

After an election the incumbent councillor directors stayed for a maximum of three months.

Yesterday three of the four former councillors attended the annual meeting and are still directors. Former Mayor Bob Parker is overseas.

The new mayor Lianne Dalziel had another engagement but the new council was represented by deputy mayor Vicki Buck at the meeting.

"It's quite unusual this year for us because all four of our council directors are changing, whereas I think up until now we have had quite a lot of continuity around those," Irvine said.

Once the council notified CCHL of the new appointees, the current four council directors would resign, he said.

CCHL is celebrating 20 years after being formed in 1993 with $76 million in equity, which had grown to more than $1.4 billion, Irvine said.

The dividends and capital payments to the council amounted to more than $1 billion over 20 years, and had kept the rates down about 13 per cent.

The debt of companies in the group had increased in the last couple of years through the construction of the new airport terminal, and the building of a new ultra-fast broadband network for greater Christchurch.

Orion, 89 per cent owned by the council, had significant capital spending ahead on restoring the electricity network.

But hopefully all the work Lyttelton Port needed to do would be paid for out of insurance proceeds, Irvine said.

CCHL had about $700m in debt and was still quite lowly geared but had significant commitments in the next five to eight years. CCHL was forecasting dividends to the council of $46m-$48m in the next three years, he said.

The Press