Greens/Labour electricity policy halves public's MRP appetite

Shareholders Association poll suggests up to half of people who intended to invest in the Mighty River Power partial privatisation have changed their minds or are reconsidering.

A poll taken by the New Zealand Shareholders Association suggests up to half of people who intended to invest in the Mighty River Power partial privatisation have changed their minds or are reconsidering.

Released today, the poll represents some 400 answers received from NZSA members in the 24 hours after the association emailed the poll to its membership, so cannot be regarded as scientifically conducted.

However, of those who replied, 72.2 percent said they had been intending to buy MRP shares before the Labour-Greens electricity policy announcement last week.

Asked whether they still intended to invest, only 36.5 percent said "yes", although 50 percent said they were undecided and still considering the implications of the Greens/Labour policy.

The policy would scrap the existing wholesale electricity market and replace it with a new government agency which would act as a central buyer, planner and regulator for the industry to bring power prices down for households.

Before the announcement, 3.4 percent said they were not investing in MRP, compared to 13.4 percent after the announcement. Some 24.4 percent were considering their options ahead of the opposition policy release.

Asked whether they would change the amount they would invest, a little more than half (53.9 percent) said they would reduce their intended exposure to MRP, 37.3 percent said they would invest at the same level and 2.1 percent intended to invest more than before.

"While most seemed likely to proceed, the level of their investment may be reduced as they reacted to the higher perceived risk," says NZSA chairman John Hawkins. "This was not unexpected as capital markets react very negatively to regulatory uncertainty or policy U-turns, even when they may be some distance in the future."

He says the poll also suggests informed retail investors are broadly satisfied with their access to information and advice about the float, despite criticisms in the media that so many investment advisers are party to the sale that independent financial advice has been hard for retail investors to get.

"The reality was that 62 percent of investors were satisfied in making their own decision," he says. "Half of those who were seeking tailored advice had been able to obtain it from financial advisers or sharebrokers."

Almost three-quarters of those who answered the survey question thought the 260-page MRP prospectus was well laid-out and informative, which was an endorsement of the new Financial Market Authority rules applying to offer documents, he says.

One-third of those who answered said they thought the document too lengthy and further moves to introduce short-form disclosure documents would be welcome.


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