Council rules out need for sell down to fund recovery costs

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2012

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Discussions on which Christchurch ratepayer-owned assets could be sold have been held by the Christchurch City Council's managing company.

But Christchurch City Holdings (CCHL) chairman Bruce Irvine said there were no plans for any asset sales, with Mayor Bob Parker and councillors against the idea.

The city council has come under pressure to consider asset sales to fund the central Christchurch rebuild, with business leaders and Cabinet ministers encouraging the idea.

Parker has rejected the high-level overtures, saying the council can fund the recovery costs without resorting to asset sales.

CCHL is the council's wholly owned investment arm and manages the council's companies on its behalf.

Irvine said the company was "constantly" considering whether asset sales would be beneficial for the city.

He said the company had held internal discussions on which assets could be sold and the priorities for ownership.

"We have looked at that for the very reason that we didn't want to be seen to be ignoring the issue," he said.

However, the council had indicated that it saw no current need for asset sales.

"If there is that need for the owner, we will work with them, but at the moment we have been advised there is no need," Irvine said.

If the council sold down shares in its assets, it would reduce the high rate of return that it received from the companies each year.

"The question I always challenge people with is why would we sell assets giving us a 15.6 per cent return to pay down debt of 5 per cent?"

The council was responsible for deciding whether to sell any of the assets, Irvine said.

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