Auckland Airport shares temporarily halted on NZX after Mayor Wayne Brown's speculation on public spending

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown says he was "speculating" after he alluded that council's Auckland Airport shares would be reduced in value, prompting a trading halt to be put in place.

The halt was placed by NZ RegCo, the regulator of New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX), at 11:59am on Thursday until an announcement is made by the airport.

The halt has now been lifted and ordinary shares resume at 1.11pm Thursday.

It comes after Brown told a council meeting on Thursday that Auckland Airport was about to fundraise for a new domestic terminal that the council would not contribute to, causing their stake to drop.

"Dilution is almost inevitable. They're about to go to a major raising to fund a new domestic airport and we will not be contributing to that so our 18 percent will soon become about 11 or 10 and at that stage, it becomes less and less strategic," Brown said.

Auckland Airport, which is a publicly listed company, had not currently made an announcement to NZX. 

"No I don't think they have announced it yet, but you don't have to be particularly forward-looking to see that that's coming and there have been… statements that are leaning towards that," Brown said. "There is a need for a new domestic terminal and they don't have current capital for so it's almost inevitable."

The comments prompted NZX to announce a trading halt which the company said will remain in place until the release of the announcement or when the market opens on Monday.

Brown's office has come out and clarified the mayor's comments.

"Like everyone in the investment community, the Mayor was speculating about how the airport company might finance its ambitious capital expenditure programme," a spokesperson for the mayor said in a statement.

The statement listed a number of the airport's planned expenditure programmes including a $1 billion-plus new domestic hub, a new international arrivals area and $75 million for ongoing upgrades to the existing domestic terminal.

"The Mayor's point is that these are all good news for Auckland, but if the airport decides it needs to raise capital for any of them, this would require the Council to either to participate in the capital raise with ratepayers' or borrowed money, or see its shareholding fall below the current 18 percent," Brown's spokesperson said. 

They said the mayor is not in possession of any information not available to the market.