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Greens say Super Fund will want piece of Kiwibank

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Russel Norman
Russel Norman

Wellington, May 28 NZPA - Selling Kiwibank to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund would not protect it from ending up in foreign hands, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says.

Fund head Adrian Orr told The New Zealand Herald yesterday that it was on the acquisition trail for stakes in prime New Zealand assets like rural land, state-owned enterprises, smaller high-growth companies and iwi businesses.

"We are actively banging on the door for anything that's collectively, co-operatively or currently Crown-owned. We'll be saying if and when there's an opportunity for smart long-term equity, we'll want to be considered 'first cab off the rank' ... I would love first right of refusal over these types of assets."

The future of Kiwibank has been in the spotlight after Finance Minister Bill English raised the possibility of selling it to fund growth. Prime Minister John Key has said there are no plans to sell state owned assets this term in office but the Government would soon start work on a policy which could include sales. Any change in policy would be campaigned on.

Mr Key earlier in the week said any float was likely to be to "mum and dad shareholders" with the Government retaining the majority.

Today Dr Norman said he was concerned that the fund would be allowed to buy up Kiwibank shares.

"At some point, all Super Fund assets must be sold off to fund the superannuation of the baby boomers," Dr Norman said.

"Once Kiwibank is privatised it will inevitably end up in foreign hands whether it is first sold to small shareholders and then on-sold, or if it is first sold to the Super Fund who are then are required by law to liquidate their assets."

Dr Norman said Kiwibank should be allowed to retain profits to build up necessary capital reserves to break into business banking for medium and large businesses.

"Households with mortgages have already saved millions because Kiwibank drove down interest rates on home mortgages, but New Zealand businesses have yet to benefit because Kiwibank is still too small to break into that market.

"We need a long term strategy for a competitive banking sector, and only a publicly owned Kiwibank is in a position to guarantee that," Dr Norman said.

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