Beattie quits Infinity board to focus on monorail
John Beattie, the public face of a planned $170 million Fiordland Link Experience, says it is still full steam ahead with the scheme.
He has resigned from the board of its major investor, Infinity Investment Group Holdings Ltd, in a move opponents believe casts doubt on the controversial project.
But Mr Beattie says the move was tied to him also quitting as director of Infinity’s Pegasus Town Ltd, which went into receivership last month.
“This is appropriate to do when there’s a receivership,” he told NBR ONLINE.
Mr Beattie (62) says he had been considering his future with Infinity and the failure of Pegasus also presented the opportunity.
However, he says the Fiordland monorail project would not be affected, particularly as this meant he could devote himself to it fulltime.
“I remain a director and the person responsible for Riverstone Holdings, the applicant for the Monorail concession,” he says.
Bob Robertson, chairman and chief executive of Riverstone Holdings and also a fellow director of Infinity, says Mr Beattie’s work with Pegasus Town was effectively complete and his duties had changed to focus on the monorail.
“It’s a culmination of that. It’s nothing to do with the monorail. His duties have changed as they do in business. He’s concentrating on the monorail,” Mr Robertson told NBR.
However, Save Fiordland spokesman Robert Krausz says Mr Beattie’s departure from Infinity raises many questions, particularly a lack of backing for the monorail scheme.
“This proposal is looking increasingly like a farce, with the granting of the concession highly likely to result in an attempt to ‘flip’ it on to another developer for a quick profit,” he says.
He also fears overseas investment in the multi-million dollar scheme could lead to loss of local control and ownership.
However, Mr Robertson says he has “had good discussions with the capital markets” to fund the scheme.
He expected some capital would come from offshore, but so does much of New Zealand’s mortgage funding.
“Seed capital might come from offshore, but long-term funding is likely to be out of NZX capital markets,” he says.
Mr Robertson says Infinity typically builds what it designs and it had raised similar sums before.
“This is not necessarily a daunting task. We intend to be fully committed to the monorail and build it and run it. There is no intention to flick it."
Mr Beattie says it is fanciful to think any concessionaire applicant had $200 million of equity available straight away and it was always the company’s intention to carry out capital fundraising.
But this capital raising would not begin until Riverstone has the resource consent for the project.
A Department of Conservation hearing panel has still to make its recommendation to Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson. A decision is expected by the end of October.
Until then, Mr Beattie, a former general manager of Brierley Investments and partner in law firm Kensington Swan, says his focus is the monorail.
“It does need to be a fulltime role, but I will assume other challenges in time,” he says.