WELLINGTON - The New Zealand government said on Sunday it will sell a 20 per cent stake in the national airline this week to raise as much as NZ$365 million (S$379 million) to fund infrastructure and reduce debt.
The off-market sale to local and offshore institutions, which would cut the government's ownership of Air New Zealand Ltd to 53 per cent, is part of a programme to sell minority stakes in four state-owned firms to raise NZ$5 billion.
Craigs Investment Partners, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have been appointed to run the share sale.
The bookbuilding process will start on Monday, and Finance Minister Bill English said he was confident of achieving the government's objective of having 85 per cent New Zealand ownership of the airline.
"Usually these types of sales are completed in less than one day," English said.
"However, to target widespread New Zealand ownership, we are conducting the bookbuild over Monday and Tuesday to give New Zealand sharebrokers time to discuss the offer with retail investors."
Air New Zealand shares closed on Friday at NZ$1.65, valuing the 20 per cent stake at NZ$365 million. In recent weeks the shares have traded as high as NZ$1.69, their highest since February 2008.
The company has requested a halt in the trading of its shares on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges.
The government has raised about NZ$3.6 billion from the sale of 49 per cent stakes in Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy. A stake sale in a third power company, Genesis Energy Ltd, is slated for the first half of next year.