Goff mulls Ports of Auckland ownership

 Mr Goff said he has had wide-ranging discussions about the port.

Speculation is mounting that Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is considering selling off the Ports of Auckland business.

In a statement, Mr Goff said he has had wide-ranging discussions about the port but no “specific proposal” on the port’s ownership had been presented to him.

“I’ve made no decisions about the port’s long-term future as yet but intend to make progress on this matter over the course of this term.”

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett tells NBR the mayor’s attitude towards selling the asset has changed since his election.

“I have certainly been made aware over the last couple of weeks that the attitude to recycling assets by the mayor and councillors is probably been given a different perspective from what we have seen in the past,” he says.

“His perspective appears to have changed on what he campaigned on – he was looking at the port and other assets and so on.”

When he was elected in October, Mr Goff pledged to keep the port in ratepayers’ hands as it was the council’s most valuable asset.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood told the Herald the business community was supportive of the idea.

"It seems to us silly for the council to be tying up monetary assets and effectively crowding out private sector investment when the money could be better used."

In late 2015, two independent reports from Cameron Partners and EY suggested Auckland Council should consider selling some of its assets to pay for infrastructure needs.

“The council needs to consider whether it really needs to own particular assets to meet its strategic objectives. If full ownership is unnecessary, options include the partial sale and contracting out services,” the Cameron report says.

Both reports suggested the council could lease the Ports of Auckland to a private operator.

A 2013 CBRE report valued the port’s land between $300-600 million.

It made a profit of $83 million in 2015/16, paying $42.2 million in dividends.

The most recent valuation of the port put it at $1.1 billion and is 100% owned though Auckland Council Investments.

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