New Zealand govt sells 20 per cent Air NZ stake for $380m

A file photo taken on Feb 27, 2013 shows an Air New Zealand jet taking off above the cricketers during an International cricket match between a New Zealand XI and England played in Queenstown. The New Zealand government said on Tuesday it has sold a
A file photo taken on Feb 27, 2013 shows an Air New Zealand jet taking off above the cricketers during an International cricket match between a New Zealand XI and England played in Queenstown. The New Zealand government said on Tuesday it has sold a 20 per cent stake in the national airline at market price, raising NZ$365 million (S$380 million) as part of its privatisation programme to return to a budget surplus and pay back debt. -- PHOTO: AFP  

WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - The New Zealand government said on Tuesday it has sold a 20 per cent stake in the national airline at market price, raising NZ$365 million (S$380 million) as part of its privatisation programme to return to a budget surplus and pay back debt.

Finance Minister Bill English said the government had sold 221 million shares in Air New Zealand Ltd at NZ$1.65 each, the same as its last traded price on Friday.

"The sell-down of shares has returned NZ$365 million, which will now be allocated to the Future Investment Fund so we can keep building new assets like schools and hospitals while controlling government debt," English said in a statement.

"This brings the total share offer programme proceeds to almost NZ$4 billion after three partial sales."

The shares were sold to broking houses after a two-day bookbuild, who were to sell on to retail and institutional investors with preference to be given to local retail investors.

Craigs Investment Partners, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have been appointed to run the share sale.

The government has retained a 53 per cent stake in the airline after the sell-down, but has a target in all its asset sales for local ownership of between 85 per cent and 90 per cent.