Delta criticised for shutting Christchurch branch

Infrastructure company Delta has confirmed it will be shutting its Christchurch-based civil construction operation, making 40 people redundant.

The Dunedin City Council-owned company had been struggling in a competitive market during the slow build-up to the Christchurch rebuild, Delta chief executive Grady Cameron said yesterday.

After consulting staff, no alternatives to closing were provided, he said.

''We are facing a situation where our current and future workloads in Christchurch are insufficient to maintain our existing civil construction workforce and depot base in the city.''

However, Auckland business broker Murray Stott, of Resort Brokers, said he believed Delta and its sales adviser did not ''leave every stone unturned'' in looking for a buyer.

''In fact, with the information I have, not half the stones were turned. There appears to be a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Christchurch market.''

He had contacted the company after hearing of its imminent closure offering to see if he could broker an ''11th hour'' deal with one of the five multinational companies he had dealings with.

The process stalled when he and Delta disagreed over the need for an agency agreement to be signed under the requirements of Real Estate Agency Authority (REAA) rules, Mr Stott said.

As a result of his concerns, he had laid a complaint with the REAA. An REAA spokeswoman confirmed Mr Stott's approach and said it had begun a preliminary investigation into the situation. It was not know how long it would take.

Mr Cameron said Delta completed a comprehensive sale process with significant interest from multiple local, national and international companies.

In March, it sought interest from potential buyers looking to build their capacity or expand into the Christchurch and wider construction markets.

Having operated in Christchurch for more than 10 years, ''we are very comfortable that we identified a significant range and depth of qualified, potential purchasers''. Despite strong initial interest, there were no firm offers made to buy the business unit for a range of reasons, including the lack of workload, he said.

The company had welcomed the approach from Resort Brokers this week.

''We provided them with the same opportunity as all other parties, inviting them to participate in the process and to receive a detailed, confidential information memorandum.''

Dunedin City Council governance manager Sandy Graham said council staff had been in discussions with Mr Stott but it was a matter for Delta to comment on.

Mr Cameron said the company would help employees find other work and had invited 20 employers to meet the workers yesterday to talk about job opportunities.

Delta would continue to provide green space and electricity services to customers in Christchurch and the Canterbury region.


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