Powerco stake attracts international bidders

Twenty domestic and international firms have expressed interest in acquiring major stakes in major energy reticulator New Plymouth-headquartered Powerco.

The Daily News today reports New Plymouth District Council Mayor Peter Tennent as saying the potential buyers - from North America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand - had expressed an interest in the NPDC and Taranaki Electricity Trust 49% shareholding in listed company Powerco.

Tennent expects potential buyers to have made indicative bids by mid-June, with a purchase agreement in place by July.

NPDC and TET decided last month to sell their respective stakes in Powerco following revelations that NGC Holdings, Powerco and Auckland-headquartered network company Vector were discussing possible merger options.

While the market value for their combined 49% share is NZ$325 million, commentators predictions last month estimated the value could be as high as NZ$500 million.

Tennent declined to comment on the identity of interested companies, but said the interest had been better than expected. "There is substantial international interest, that's all I can say."

Commentators say NGC, and Aussies AGL and Australian Pipeline Trust (APL) could be among those interested.

NPDC chief executive Rodger Kerr-Newell is presently in Australia with PriceWaterhouseCoopers' Craig Rice, giving presentations to prospective buyers.

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