20 Aug 2013

Details of Meridian share offer announced

7:35 pm on 20 August 2013

The Government has announced details of the partial sale of Meridian Energy, a State-owned company.

The government will sell up to 49% of the company and retain the majority stake.

Prime Minister John Key said shares in Meridian Energy will be listed on the stock exchange in November.

Because the share offer is a large one, he said an installment model will be used for investors to buy the shares.

This will mean investors can pay about 60% of the share price at the time of the float and the remaining amount within 18 months.

Between instalments, investors will receive the full dividends paid out in that period.

A minimum application of $1000 will apply for the first instalment of shares.

The ministers did not say how much money will be raised from the sale - that will be announced when the prospectus has been lodged.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said that given the public is already familiar with the Government's share offer programme, there would not be a formal pre-registration process, as happened with the Mighty River Power offer.

But he said there would be a share price cap for New Zealand retail investors who take part in the offer - which would be set at the same time that the price range is set

Mr Ryall said the cap would mean that if demand is such that institutions are bidding at higher prices than the price cap, then retail investors would get their shares at a lower price than that paid by the institutions.

Meridian will be the second State energy company to be partially sold, following the partial float of Mighty River Power earlier this year.

Shares in Mighty River Power were sold at $2.50 each and began trading on 17 May. Since 24 May, the shares have traded below the issue price, falling as low as $2.19.

Government desperate - Labour

The Labour Party meanwhile has accused the Government of adopting desperate measures in an effort to sell shares in Meridian Energy.

Labour's State-owned enterprises spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove says John Key is desperate to get people to buy the shares.

"That's going to be a cost to the tax payer of course. Is that going to be money borrowed? Is that going to be money out of the future investment fund? Which they're like Winnie the Pooh sticking their sticky fingers into every day.

"The reason they want to get this away at any cost is because only half the people who said they wanted to buy Mighty River Power are saying they wanted to buy Meridian."

Mr Cosgrove says Mr Key knows the only way to get buyers for Meridian is to sell it at a low price.

Syndicate members

AAP reports ASB and ANZ, and sharebroker Forsyth Barr, have been appointed to the retail syndicate for the offer, alongside lead managers Craig's Investment Partners, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JB Were and Macquarie.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key has indicated a partial float of Genesis Energy will take place early next year.