Government looks to sell down Air New Zealand stake

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The New Zealand government is planning to reduce its stake in flag-carrier Air New Zealand.

State-owned enterprises minister Tony Ryall says that the government is involved in a programme to partially float stakes in three state-owned enterprises (SOEs), after which it will examine selling down some of its 73% stake in Air New Zealand.

"Mighty River Power is the first SOE to be partially floated and decisions on the timing for the rest of the programme are yet to be announced," says Ryall. "Currently 27% of Air New Zealand is held by private investors, with a 10% restriction on any non-New Zealand shareholder."

The current National government has stated as far back as 2011 that it would like to sell down its stake in Air New Zealand, although it is expected that it will maintain a 51% shareholding in the airline.

The high level of government ownership was the result of an NZ$885 million ($751 million) bailout of the carrier by the previous Labour government following the collapse of its Ansett Australia subsidiary in 2001. Despite that, the carrier's shares are still listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, and are also traded on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Air New Zealand recorded a profit of NZ$100 million for the six months to 31 December 2012.