Vbase future decided today

The future of Christchurch events and venues company Vbase and its staff will be decided today.

The Christchurch City Council-owned business - which runs the quake-damaged Town Hall, Convention Centre and AMI Stadium, as well as the still-operating CBS Canterbury Arena - is having financial difficulties and has said it is reviewing its staffing levels.

The company has about 250 staff, including 70 full-time workers.

As part of the draft 2011-12 annual plan process, city councillors will today decide what can be done to get Vbase through tough times.

Council chief executive Tony Marryatt told The Press yesterday he would recommend to councillors a package that would keep rates increases to a minimum while ensuring a future for Vbase.

It would involve Vbase contracting its operations from July 1 to the council, which would in turn manage the business and the rebuild of its three damaged facilities for an as-yet undetermined period.

Vbase's assets would remain with the company.

The option would also include the council taking on $45 million of Vbase debt and injecting $12m of new funding, split into payments of $9m and $3m, into the company.

Today's discussion would take place with the public excluded, Marryatt said.

"Obviously for staff employed by Vbase, we want them to hear what their future options are from us before they read it in the papers."

The decision would be announced publicly as soon as that had been done, he said.

Only one other option was being mooted - to leave Vbase operating as it was now.

Asked if that meant it was effectively Hobson's choice, he said councillors still had an alternative available to choose from.

The Press