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The National Government's flagship partial asset sales policy will end in the next month or so with the sale of Genesis Energy, given there is little left worth selling, Prime Minister John Key said yesterday.
Key confirmed the Genesis sale would happen in the next month or so, in line with previous indications, which allows the final stage of the unpopular programme to be completed well before this year's election.
"Just as we did before the last election we're making our position on share sales clear to New Zealanders before we go to the polls later this year," he said.
"We've achieved what we wanted with the share offers in energy companies and Air NZ. We're now returning to a business-as-usual approach when it comes to [state-owned enterprises]."
Key underlined that the Genesis float would be the last asset sale under his Government either before or after the election.
"The truth is there aren't a lot of other assets that would fit in the category where they would be either appealing to take to the market or of a size that would warrant a further programme, or they sit in the category that they are very large like Transpower but are monopoly assets so aren't suited."
Key countered criticism from the Greens and others that the Government was ignoring Treasury advice that an oversupply of energy company shares on the market meant it would not get the best price for Genesis if it was sold too quickly.
"I don't think the price we could achieve for Genesis will change dramatically whether we take it to the market in the next month or so or take it to market in 14 months."
Prime Minister John Key's status report on asset sales
# Genesis: Sale will go ahead "in the next month or so" with Finance Minister Bill English to give further details tomorrow.
Maybe, but not now:
# Solid Energy: Keeping the company afloat would be "very challenging ... but we'll do our best. It can survive but its asset value is very low and it's probably gone from being worth, arguably $2 billion or $3 billion to between nothing and $300 million maybe."
Not for sale:
# NZ Post/KiwiBank: "Frankly it would be a very difficult business to sell with the exception of KiwiBank which isn't actually producing any cash."
# TVNZ: "Would be possible but it is in a highly competitive market, and it would probably be difficult to get that away."
# Transpower: "It's a monopoly and I don't think it makes much sense to sell shares in it."
# The rest: "Largely kind of rats and mice. We could sell them in totality like a Kordia but that would be a very different deal to the mixed ownership and frankly wouldn't be worth the political argument."