Central Otago residents are expected to reap the benefits
of a $50 million-plus investment by electricity generation
company Pioneer Generation - the deal will double staff numbers
and is also likely to boost the coffers of the Central Lakes
The community-owned company, based in Alexandra, has bought
Energy for Industry Ltd (EFI), a Meridian Energy subsidiary.
Pioneer chief executive Fraser Jonker said yesterday the
deal, worth more than $50 million, was a significant step
forward in the growth of the company and gave it a national
''EFI provides energy solutions for some of the country's key
primary sector industries. The EFI business has a
market-leading position in the process heat and biofuel
markets, with strong opportunities for future growth,'' Mr
Jonker said. The Central Lakes Trust is the sole shareholder
in Pioneer, which pays an annual dividend to the trust.
The trust fund was created in 2000, using assets valued at
$155 million from the Otago Central Electric Power Board. It
donates funds for projects within the former power board
district and has given more than $58 million in grants.
''This deal is very good for the people of Central Otago, who
are the beneficiaries of the trust,'' trust chairman Sir Eion
''Not only does it diversify Pioneer's earnings by being
based away from just generation, which can be an uncertain
investment with power prices fluctuating, but it also adds
expertise and adds to the overall value of the company.
''It's a very good move and should add considerably to
Pioneer Generation through highdividends, increasing what the
Central Lakes Trust can pay out to worthy causes.''
Pioneer owns and operates 13 hydro-electricity-generating
stations and two wind farms in Otago and Southland.
Mr Jonker said the acquisition of EFI would more than double
the company's turnover, more than double staff numbers and
contribute to earnings growth of more than 40% for Pioneer.
Pioneer employs 23 staff based in Alexandra and EFI employs
about 30 staff throughout the country, the company's asset
manager, Peter Mulvihill, said.
''On continued growth, we'd expect to boost both those staff
''Initially we'll continue to operate EFI as a stand-alone
unit but we'll look at what synergies there are and how we
can best combine the companies to maximise the return to our
Pioneer would keep its head office in Alexandra, he said. EFI
had a broad range of activities and its key area of expertise
was in providing ''clean energy'' solutions to customers.
''We've always been open to new growth opportunities and we
saw this as a good fit with our company,'' Mr Mulvihill said.