Govt should rescue Solid Energy – NZ First

  • 04/08/2015

The Government should rescue Solid Energy the same way its predecessor saved Air New Zealand, NZ First says.

The state-owned coal miner is crippled by debt and an announcement on its future is expected within weeks.

One of the options is liquidation - the Government doesn't favour that but says banks will make the call.

NZ First's Richard Prosser says Air New Zealand's recovery is proof Solid Energy can be turned around.

"It's lucky National wasn't in government when Air New Zealand nearly went to the wall," he said.

"Now look at it - the airline is one of the most profitable in the world."

Air New Zealand was largely privatised in 1989, got into strife and was returned to majority government ownership in 2001 by a Labour government.

"So is Solid Energy worth saving? Hell yes, coal is central to steel production and we haven't touched the potential," Mr Prosser said.

Labour also wants the Government to stand behind Solid Energy.

"It's time for the Government to step in and make sure that what's left of the company is sound, can work, and resurrects what they can from it," said party leader Andrew Little.

"The value of the business is what's left in the ground of the mines it owns. There's still demand for steel and that demand won't go away."

The company told staff last week there were three potential paths ahead - an arrangement that would allow it to continue operating, some kind of controlled sell-down, or liquidation.

It said no decisions had been made.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday the Government wasn't going to put any more money into Solid Energy but there were other options that were being worked through with the company and its creditor banks.

He wouldn't say what the other options were.

By Pattrick Smellie

Contact Energy's senior management team is set to benefit to the tune of almost $3.8 million from the exit by its 53 percent shareholder Origin Energy.

The ownership change triggers the rights of existing senior managers to receive Contact shares at no cost with a total value of almost $3.8m, based on the $4.65 per share price used for the Origin disposal, and according to the company's most recent NZX filings.

A total of 775,959 performance share rights (PSRs) and 35,982 deferred share rights (DSRs) are owed to the existing senior management team, for a total value of $3.78m based on the $4.65 strike price.

In addition, according to filings last December, former chief executive and departing board member David Baldwin, holds 106,104 PSRs, with a value of $493,384.

A total of 2.9m PSRs and DSRs are triggered by the Origin sale, affecting a raft of former senior officers of the company as well as existing senior managers.

At a price of $4.65, those shares are worth almost $13.5m in total.

Contact shares are suspended while Origin lays off its shareholding to a range of New Zealand and offshore institutional and retail investors.

The largest beneficiary of the PSR redemptions appears to be Contact's chief executive, Dennis Barnes, whose entitlement stood at 334,479 PSRs in filings to the NZX on December 15, giving shares issued a value of $1.55m at $4.65 per share

Also triggered by the change of ownership are rights to exercise 13.5m share options, which have also been granted to a range of current and former senior managers at Contact.

However, with trigger prices of between $5.22 and $5.94, above recent trading prices for Contact shares, there is no incentive to convert them at present, although all options remain able to be exercised until the option rights lapse.