Wednesday, October 13, 2010

David Cunliffe at the NZ Open Source Awards, 2007Image via Wikipedia
David Cunliffe, Labour finance spokesman

 Ngai Tahu, Superfund  wanted to buy South Canterbury finance...

The New Zealand Superfund and Ngai Tahu were part of a consortium of investors whose bid for South Canterbury Finance was rejected last month, says opposition finance spokesman David Cunliffe.

Details of the bidders were revealed by Mr Cunliffe in Parliament today as he alleged government mismanagement of the failed finance company that he said may cost the taxpayer more than $300 million.

Mr Cunliffe told the House an offer for $1.3 billion was made on August 31 by a consortium led by Permanent Investments. That offer was rejected by the receivers. Another offer again led by Permanent but also including the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Ngai Tahu was made on September 13 and also rejected.

Permanent Investments is a company asssociated with Sydney-based businessman Duncan Saville. Its directors include Dugald Morrison, the brother of Wellington businessman and Saville associate Lloyd Morrison, who in turn has interests in companies that manage millions of NZ Super Fund cash.

Permanent was indentified by the Herald as a bidder for South Canterbury's assets after South Canterbury chief executive Sandy Maier was seen on a plane reading a sale and purchase agreement for his company the day it went into receivership.

Mr Cunliffe said based on South Canterbury's book value of $1.8 billion, the taxpayer would have incurred a loss of about $500 million had the first offer been accepted.

He also said with the Government indicating it anticipated an eventual loss of $800 million on South Canterbury, it had effectively left $300 million on the table by rejecting the offer. Mr Cunliffe later said there was a risk the value of the company's assets may deteriorate further, deepening the taxpayers' loss.

Responding to Mr Cunliffe, Finance Minister Bill English said he didn't want to comment on commercial details of bids or transactions that may still be under negotiation and he referred to an earlier statement that at no point was there any offer on the table "that did not involve considerable risk and cost to the Crown".

South Canterbury Finance went into receivership at the end of August triggering a $1.7 Government payout to investors. including $1.6 billion under the Crown's Retail Deposit Guarantee.

Treasury is to publish documents relating to the guarantee and South Canterbury Finance this week.

Acknowledgements: Adam Bennett


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