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New Zealand Said to Seek NZ$351 Million for Airline Stake

Air New Zealand Aircraft
Air New Zealand Ltd. aircraft stand on the tarmac at Auckland International Airport in Auckland, New Zealand. Photographer: Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg

New Zealand’s government is seeking about NZ$351 million ($292 million) from the sale of a 20 percent stake in Air New Zealand Ltd., according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The government is offering the shares for at least NZ$1.60 each, said the person, asking not to be named because the details haven’t been made public. The stock, currently halted, closed at NZ$1.65 on Nov. 15.

Prime Minister John Key’s government has already sold 49 percent stakes in Mighty River Power Ltd. and Meridian Energy Ltd., raising NZ$3.6 billion. The Air New Zealand sale, which will cut the government’s stake in the airline to 53 percent, should be completed by late tomorrow, Finance Minister Bill English said in a statement yesterday.

“An off-market selldown is fast and efficient, which is important when working with a company that is already listed,” English said in the statement.

Trading in Air New Zealand shares will probably resume Nov. 20, the finance minister said in the statement. The stock has surged 27 percent in 2013, valuing the carrier at NZ$1.81 billion.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said in an interview last month that the airline plans to double passenger and revenue growth in the next few years as it expands in the Pacific Rim region and earns more from established markets such as the U.S.

Revenue growth should reach 5 percent in the 2015 fiscal year, up from 3 percent in the year through June 2013, and the airline is planning for growth rates of as much as 7 percent over the next five years, he said.

Craigs Investment Partners Ltd., Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will manage the share sale and work with New Zealand stockbrokers to target widespread New Zealand ownership of the airline’s stock, according to the statement.

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