Mighty River pre-registrations top 200,000

New total hit at 3.30pm today.

More than 200,000 people have pre-registered their interest in buying shares in state-owned Mighty River Power.

The 200,000 came up at 3.30pm today after pre-registrations hit 151,978 last night.

Strong demand saw the www.mightyrivershares.govt.nz  website crash briefly on the opening day on Tuesday because of heavy traffic.

Pre-registrations of interest can be lodged until March 22, placing would-be small-scale investors in MRP in the queue to meet the government’s commitment to ensure 85% of the shares on offer are bought by New Zealand investors.

It is not known how many of the pre-registrations will turn into buyers. But those who do pre-register may be allocated up to 25% more shares than people who do not pre-register - if demand for shares exceeds shares available.

Chris Major, a marketing director at Treasury, says there's no advantage in pre-registering early.

The government has mounted a $1.1 million mass-market television, newspaper and internet advertising campaign to entice New Zealanders to invest in the 49% of state-owned electricity company being offered for sale.

The level of interest in the partial privatisation of MRP tops what Kiwis expressed for the last major state asset sell-off, Contact Energy - privatised in 1999.

Offer documents for the float will be released shortly after pre-registration closes on March 22, followed by the  “book build” exercise to match demand for the shares with available supply.

The greater the excess of demand against supply, the higher the initial share price is likely to be.

The listing is expected by the time of the May 16 Budget.

MRP was independently valued at $3.6 billion in 2011, so the sale of 49 percent could raise close to $1.8 billion, which the government says it will invest in public infrastructure instead of borrowing.

gbond@nbr.co.nz

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