Daily Archives: February 21, 2010

So where’s the media explosion?

Carefully, the first media release aired at Christchurch yesterday. Since Lyttelton Port Company Ltd (LPC) is a listed company, of course a letter had already been circulated to LPC shareholders.

### stuff.co.nz Last updated 12:54 19/02/2010
Lyttelton Port committed to merger talks
By Alan Wood – BusinessDay.co.nz
Lyttelton Port of Christchurch has committed to “detailed negotiations” on a merger opportunity with its main South Island rival Port Otago. The two ports have issued a joint statement saying merger negotiations will continue with the ports having started the potential merger process more than a year ago. Both companies are treating this project with the utmost urgency.
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The (lapdog) ODT announcement followed – not page 1 material, if you sneezed you missed it in today’s print edition.

### ODT Online Fri, 19 Feb 2010
Lyttelton and Otago ports move merger talks to next stage
Lyttelton Port Company Ltd (LPC) and Port of Otago Ltd (POL) are moving to the next phase of merger talks. “The boards of Lyttelton Port Company Ltd and Port of Otago Ltd have agreed that continuing to work towards a potential operational merger is warranted,” the companies said in a joint statement. The next stage involves talks on the content of a report prepared by Antipodes Capital as part of the first stage of the project. The structure being considered involves the legal separation of the infrastructure assets from the operations and commercial activities of each port.
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Yep, sounds like ‘don’t encourage difficult questions from the natives’ – the shareholders, the exporters, the unions et al – noooo, because as everyone knows decisions on the merger, or anything like this in corporate infrastructural scale, have been made months ago. The ports merger is a fait accompli.

Only now are we starting to see the stage-managed PR rollout/suppression tactics (yawn), designed to keep corporate lids down on all sorts of things, many of them legal and financial.

What happens to POL’s local executive and administration? Hear the hark of Christchurch for another of our corporate head offices (POL).

Will the Otago Southland region be well served by the ports merger?

Where are the independent critical analyses from business leaders and merchants in response? Hello, anyone home at the Otago Daily Times? How much is this sinking or benefitting our region?

Does Fonterra see advantages or disadvantages?

And what of the international shipping conglomerates and the ways they will want to operate in future? It’s not enough just to talk about the next generation of large boats – many of these will be ‘slower’ vessels, how will our fresh produce get to significant international markets in perfect condition to obtain premium prices? We can’t afford slow boats to China or anywhere else. Is it feasible to use air freighting again, at scale?

It was bad enough that people sold their souls to dairy conversions in the South through greed and ugly (now nonforthcoming) bank lending. What does losing local control of our major deep-water port mean to the future of Otago Southland?

Somebody had better start explaining things fast, from every conceivable hard-arsed angle.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Economics, Geography, Politics, Project management