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Council unit triples dividend payout

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/09/2016 Jonathan Underhill

Christchurch City Holdings Ltd, the city council's investment unit, pulled cash out of its power company Orion New Zealand to almost triple its dividend payment, adding a special $90 million contribution to the city's long-term funding plan.

The company's investments in companies such as utility Orion New Zealand and Christchurch International Airport generated $138m in underlying pretax earnings in the year ended June 30, from $130.9m a year earlier.

CCHL paid $132m to the city including the $90m special dividend, which it said was "towards the capital release programme."

It paid $46m in dividends a year earlier, higher than the $42m 'ordinary' component of the latest year's payment.

The council amended its long-term plan over the past two years, reducing the overall 'capital release' it expected from CCHL by 2025 to $600m from $750m and delaying $110m earmarked for 2015/2016 until 2016/2017.

The plan has become a political issue for the upcoming local body elections because of the prospect of asset sales.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel has said the capital release could be by way of an issue or by asset sales.

CCHL chair Bruce Irvine said the improved earnings reflected growth at Christchurch Airport, which experienced a record 6.3 million passengers and a 14 per cent gain in pretax earnings to $57.5m.

The holding company owns 75 per cent of the airport along with 89 per cent of the local power company, Orion, which made $136m in distributions including $80m from a share buyback and a special dividend of $13m.

Details of the results were released under embargo via a four-page media release with the actual annual report to become available on the website.

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