Chinese firm buys New Zealand power utility

Business Materials 28 April 2008 08:30 (UTC +04:00)

China's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Limited (CKI) is expanding its international operations by buying a New Zealand electricity network, it was announced on Monday, the dpa reported.

Auckland-based Vector Limited (VCT), a leading New Zealand energy infrastructure group, said it was selling its Wellington electricity network to CKI for 785 million New Zealand dollars (about 612 million US dollars).

The deal must be approved by New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office and a majority of Vector shareholders before it is finalised on July 1, but chairman Michael Stiassny said he was confident it would be approved, because the company is not a strategic asset as set out under new foreign investment regulations.

Stiassny pointed out the Wellington network had two previous foreign owners, the US company Aquila and Canada's Transalta.

Hong Kong-based CKI is a global infrastructure owner and operator with assets and interests in Australia, Britain, Canada and mainland China.

Vector distributes electricity and gas to more than 1 million homes and businesses across New Zealand and also owns fibre-optic networks in Auckland and Wellington.

It is 75.1 per cent owned by the Auckland Energy Consumers Trust, with the balance of shares held by institutional and retail investors.