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Govt, Labour promise to keep Kiwibank

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/04/2016 Sarah Robson
The job losses were announced on the same day New Zealand's unemployment rate dropped. © Sandra Mu/Getty Images The job losses were announced on the same day New Zealand's unemployment rate dropped.

The possible sale of 45 per cent of New Zealand Post's stake in Kiwibank is effectively a "transfer within the government balance sheet", Finance Minister Bill English says.

The Superannuation Fund and ACC have a proposal on the table to buy 25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively of Kiwi Group Holdings, the company that owns Kiwibank.

Because the Super Fund and ACC are Crown entities, Kiwibank would remain 100 per cent government-owned if the sale goes through.

Mr English says that's a bottom line and the government would exercise its right of first refusal over any future share sales.

"This government, if it was offered the bank, would buy it back, we wouldn't sell it outside government," he told reporters.

"Kiwibank is 100 per cent government-owned because successive governments have had that as policy.

"If a future government changes the policy, they'll have the debate with the public, but our policy's clear."

Mr English said the proposed deal, which he doesn't describe as a sale, has benefits for Kiwibank.

"We would expect that the change in the ownership structure means that it's easier for them to get access to capital to grow," he said.

The government doesn't expect New Zealand Post's stake in Kiwibank to go below 55 per cent in the foreseeable future, Mr English said.

Labour leader Andrew Little described the proposed share sale as a "clever scheme".

"It'll achieve the objective of keeping Kiwibank in public ownership and giving it an opportunity for new capital to expand in the future," he said.

Labour has also pledged to keep Kiwibank in public hands.

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