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'Common sense' to keep City Care

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016

Asset sale opponents are claiming victory after Christchurch City Council decided against selling its construction and maintenance business City Care.

The council on Monday said it made commercial sense to keep it and its finances wouldn't be affected.

It didn't reveal what was offered for City Care, valued last year at $113 million.

The sales process drew real interest, said councillor Raf Manji.

"However the decision not to sell was based on the nature of the preferred offer and associated conditions."

The people of Christchurch would probably never be told who was the preferred buyer or what the associated conditions were, says lobby group Keep Our Assets Canterbury.

There was never any justification for selling City Care and the u-turn decision is a victory for common sense, says spokesman Murray Horton.

"We also suspect that the council (or at least the seven councillors plus the mayor who voted to sell assets, including City Care) will be mightily relieved to get this political hot potato off the table just a few months out from the local body election."

Last year City Care, which employs 1473 staff in 17 locations around the country, paid the council a dividend of $5.7m on revenue of $333.5m.

Last year the council, looking to raise cash for infrastructure work, removed City Care, Red Bus and Enable Services from a list of strategic assets so they could be sold without public consultation.

It passed a long-term plan with rates rises and a phased asset-sale programme to raise money to continue rebuilding the earthquake-damaged city.

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