New Zealand government vetoes Canadian bid for airport

April 11th, 2008 - 6:53 am ICT by admin  

Wellington, April 11 (DPA) The New Zealand government Friday vetoed a bid by a Canadian pension fund to buy 40 percent of Auckland International Airport (AIAL), the company that runs the country’s main gateway for 2.4 million foreign tourists a year. Two cabinet ministers charged with making the final decision on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s partial takeover said they were not satisfied that the deal would benefit New Zealand.

The government had earlier changed overseas investment rules to require a clear benefit to New Zealand before any strategic assets were sold to foreign interests.

The AIAL board and a majority of shareholders had voted in favour of the bid by the Canadians, who acknowledged public and government concerns by saying that while seeking a 40 percent stake, they would only exercise 25 percent of voting rights, leaving control in New Zealand hands.

The Canadians lodged their bid last year after Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) withdrew an offer for 60 percent of the company, after local interests claimed publicly that it should remain in New Zealand hands.

Tony Frankham, chairman of AIAL, said the board would now reconsider issues of the capital structure and prospects for introducing a new cornerstone shareholder that could add strategic value.

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