Skeggs Group subsidiary Pacifica Shipping's Spirit of
Endurance, (pictured in early 2008 sea trials), and Spirit
of Independence are to be bought by international shipping
company Swire Group. Photo supplied.
The purchase of Dunedin-founded Pacifica Shipping is
''progressing'' and could be concluded by the end of the month.
The likelihood of a sale signals the cutting of most direct
maritime ties for the 62-year-old Skeggs Group, other than
its Skeggs Bluff Oysters Ltd. The private company initially
prospered and grew through widespread commercial fishing
interests then coastal cargo handling.
Global shipping company Swire Group's subsidiary, the China
Navigation Company (CNCo), last month signed a conditional
purchase agreement with Pacifica, which was founded by former
Dunedin mayor Sir Clifford Skeggs' investment company the
Skeggs Group about 29 years ago.
Contacted yesterday, CNCo country manager spokesman Brodie
Stevens said negotiations were ''progressing; nearly there,
the plan is [conclusion] by the end of the month''.
He declined to reveal the multimillion-dollar purchase price,
saying it was commercially sensitive.
During the past decade, Pacifica vessels have largely not
included Dunedin on routes, other than a brief service
resumption in 2008-09 by the Spirit of Endurance.
The Pacifica purchase includes its vessels Spirit of
Endurance and Spirit of Independence and will
remain an independent operation, based out of Auckland, and
will retain offices and all staff elsewhere, including in
Swire, which first called in New Zealand 130 years ago,
operates five independent multipurpose liner services from
New Zealand to Asia, Australia, North America and the Pacific
Mr Stevens said CNCo wanted to increase its investment in New
Zealand and had expansion plans for Pacifica, which included
''larger vessels and other routes'' to better service the
country's domestic shipping routes.
Swire said in a statement it had extensive interests in
agencies, stevedoring, logistics and multipurpose liner
Neither Pacifica Shipping's Steve Chapman nor Skeggs Group
managing director David Skeggs returned calls yesterday.
Interests still retained by the Skeggs Group include tourism
company Southern Discoveries Ltd, winemaker Akarua Ltd,
Fijian marina complex developer Port Denarau Marina Ltd and
Skeggs Bluff Oysters Ltd.
Southern Discoveries operates numerous monohull and catamaran
vessels in Milford Sound and Queenstown.
The NBR's annual ''rich list'' had the Skeggs family
interests valued at $100 million in July last year, having
risen from $90 million and $85 million during the previous
By early 2012, Skeggs Group had divested itself of most of
its aquaculture interests, while reinvesting heavily in its
expanding tourism holdings. It sold most of its aquaculture
assets to Sanford Ltd in November 2010 for $85 million. At
the time, it retained its Bluff oyster and salmon holdings,
but later sold subsidiary Pacifica Salmon Ltd for $950,000 to
the New Zealand King Salmon Co Ltd, a Malaysian majority
shareholder company which had to get consent from the
Overseas Investment Office.
In 2011, Southern Discoveries bought a 50% share in
Queenstown's Kawarau Jet, and took over the Te Anau-based
coach and tour operation Go Milford and Go Fiordland's
Information Centre, the two-boat Queenstown Fishing Charters
business, a retail store and a cafe and bar. In 2008, Skeggs
Group took a 49% stake in the Milford Sound Development
Authority, a private company responsible for the facilities
and infrastructure at the harbour, as part of its wider
Milford Sound investment.
In June of that year, Skeggs bought Milford Sound Red Boats
from Tourism Holdings Ltd for $17.3 million.