Tainui Group has eye on large-scale PPPs
Tainui Group Holdings is eyeing equity investment in public-private partnerships (PPPs), running a ruler over the proposed "whole of government" digital radio communications network, and new Cook Strait ferry terminal at Clifford Bay.
Chief executive Mike Pohio said the commercial development arm of the Waikato-Tainui tribe was "in observer mode". But he told the Waikato Times he could not rule out getting involved in the two potential projects as an equity investor.
Each project had a price tag of $200 million to $300m, he said.
Speaking to more than 100 people at a "lessons in leadership" forum at Waikato University's school of management yesterday, Pohio revealed Tainui Holdings had been invited to take part in PPPs to build new prisons and schools, but had declined. Prison investment returns were low until late in a project, he said.
Tainui Holdings had developed a $660m property development and investment portfolio including the New Zealand's biggest retail centre, The Base at Te Rapa. It was also seeking regulatory consent to develop a $3 billion inland port and high-quality manufacturing and distribution hub over 30 years on 600 hectares it owned at Ruakura.
Pohio later said Tainui Group Holdings was trying to get an understanding of PPPs as part of its long-term investment strategy.
"It's a bit of R&D for us. We haven't got into a consortia or a specific development."
Pohio said he had recently visited a social housing PPP in Bonnyrigg, New South Wales, with infrastructure development organisation NZCID's chief executive Stephen Selwood.
Social housing was of interest to Tainui Holdings, whose shareholder Waikato-Tauinui represents 60,000 registered iwi members.
The Government this month ordered a detailed business case drawn up for a "whole of government" digital radio communications network, primarily for use by the police and Fire Service but which other agencies could also use.
A new ferry terminal at Clifford Bay in the South Island would deprive Picton of its lifeblood ferry services, but allow passenger and cargo ships to make quicker time across Cook Strait, and help preserve the Marlborough Sounds.
The idea for a Clifford Bay terminal was floated as far back as the 1920s. The Transport Ministry has recently spent $650,000 investigating the proposal.
Pohio told the forum The Base, which contributed 50 per cent of Tainui Holdings' 2012 nearly $21 million operating profit, would be a $500m asset on completion.
The final stage of development would include a high-class automative precinct, offices, health services, more retail and possibly a hotel.
Tainui Holdings, which pays no income tax as a charitable trust, sold its Ryman shares for $57m to finish The Base's showcase shopping precinct Te Awa and the Novetel Auckland Airport Hotel, of which it owns 70 per cent.
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