22 Nov 2022

Green light given for contentious sale of Eastland network

1:11 pm on 22 November 2022
Electricity pylon.

Electricity pylon. Photo: AFP

The controversial sale of the local lines company in Gisborne will go ahead, pending Overseas Investment Office approval.

Eastland Network is locally owned, but its shareholders Trust Tairāwhiti have agreed to sell it to raise funds for local capital projects.

The vote among the trustees was unanimous. Trustees are appointed by the Gisborne District Council and include the mayor.

Last week Gisborne District councillor Colin Alder criticised the sale, saying it should be kept under local control, and now was not the right time to be selling it.

He said the network was a reliable asset, while the other Eastland assets - the port and electricity generation - were risky.

The sale was defended by former trustee Joe Martin who said the trust deed encouraged current trustees to consider the continued ownership of it every three years.

It has now been sold to Firstgas, based in Taranaki, which owns the country's gas transmission network.

Firstgas itself is owned by Igneo Infrastructure Partners, an international investment firm.

Eastland Network has been sold for $260 million. Its asset book value as at 31 March was $185m.

Eastland Group chairman Matanuku Mahuika said the day-to-day operations would remain in Gisborne.

Earlier this year, Igneo also bought Waste Management, the country's biggest waste company.

Trust Tairāwhiti is responsible for the Gisborne region's economic development and tourism. It is the sole shareholder of Eastland Group which looks after regional infrastructure - the port, electricity network and electricity generation.