A majority of shareholders in Auckland International Airport (AIAL), the company that runs the main gateway for 2.4 million tourists who visit New Zealand each year, has approved a partial takeover bid by a Canadian pension fund, it was announced on Friday. ( dpa )
AIAL said shareholders holding 62.5 per cent of its total shares had voted to accept the offer from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
Under its partial bid, CPIB sought 39.2 per cent of the shares in the company, but in response to public and government concern about foreigners owning one of the country's key strategic assets, the Canadian group said it would only exercise 25 per cent of its voting rights, leaving control in New Zealand hands.
The takeover must be approved by the Overseas Investment Office, and under New Zealand law two government ministers will have the final say on whether it goes ahead.
Last week, the government toughened the criteria for allowing a foreign stake in a strategic asset, a move widely interpreted as a bid to block the Canadians' partial takeover.
The Canadians lodged their bid last year after Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) withdrew an offer for 60 per cent of the company when local interests claimed publicly the airport should remain in New Zealand hands.
Finance Minister Michael Cullen said last week's government move was in line with similar protection of airports in Australia and would ensure that the national interest was taken into account before any strategic asset was sold to foreigners.