Govt launches privatisation website for first-time investors

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BUSINESSDESK: First-time and retail sharemarket investors are being targeted by a new government privatisation website.

It will provide basic information about the partial privatisation of up to four of its energy companies and the sale of further shares in Air New Zealand.

While deliberately bland, in order to comply with Securities Act restrictions on what owners can say about companies they propose sell shares in, it combines the political and economic rationales for the sale with information on sharemarket investing and on each of the companies.

Links to the Stock Exchange, the Office of the Retirement Commissioner's financial planning Sorted website and the Financial Markets Authority are also included.

The site comes ahead of legislation before a parliamentary select committee to allow the so-called "mixed ownership model" process to occur.

It will ensure the government retains a controlling interest of at least 51% in electricity companies MightyRiverPower, Meridian Energy, and Genesis Energy, and state coal miner Solid Energy.

No single shareholder will be able to own more than 10% of the MOMco's shares, apart from the government.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said the government expects 85% to 90% of the MOMco shares to remain New Zealand owned, including the government's stake.

Strong appetite is expected from managed funds, including KiwiSaver providers, as well as from retail investors.

"The government remains on track to proceed with the first share offer, for MightyRiverPower, in the third quarter of 2012, market conditions permitting," Mr Ryall in a statement.

The Financial Markets Authority has granted some exemptions from restrictions on what the government could say about the potential investments, which Mr Ryall said was "quite common" and had occurred in the sale of stakes in Contact Energy Auckland International Airport.

In February, Treasury appointed Chris Major, a former senior communications adviser and one-time private secretary to Cabinet minister Murray McCully, to the marketing and communications director role overseeing the partial privatisation plan.

The department also appointed Senate Communications to run its public relations and Clemenger – for many years state-owned Meridian Energy’s advertising agency –the advertising contract.

The website is at

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