Airport’s covert deal tactics

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Covert tactics kept the lid on council-owned Queenstown Airport Corporation’s shock share sale to Auckland Airport. 

Mountain Scene
– after intervention of the Ombudsman – managed this week to obtain official documents revealing: 

– QAC gave the super-secret Auckland deal a code name – “Project D12” 

–  Despite Queenstown councillors being kept in the dark until

hours before the deal went public on July 8, their own financial affairs were trawled for Auckland Airport stakes – two councillors own shares but their names are blacked out 

- To obtain Queenstown Airport land information memoranda (LIMs) during the secret due diligence process, an unknown Auckland executive emailed someone in QAC: “To avoid raising any suspicions, are you or QAC able to order these [LIMs] from QLDC on our behalf?” 

- Despite this latest release of hundreds of pages of official information, QAC still stubbornly clings to key documents like the sale and purchase agreement and a “strategic alliance agreement” – Mountain Scene has again appealed to the Ombudsman. 

The documents also appear to show QAC sees little need to sell further shares in a second stage of the two-part deal with Auckland. 

The revelation is amongst a section detailing QAC’s own pitch to councillors the night before the deal finally went public. 

One statement in the pitch negates the need for a second share sale, assuring councillors the first sale alone “fixes [QAC’s] undercapitalisation once and for all”. 

This contrasts with comments to Mountain Scene by airport chairman Mark Taylor, who’s pushing for the second share sale. Taylor’s previously argued in favour of phase two because: “… the additional capital that QAC would get can still be very productively used and grow the value of the business and grow QLDC’s shareholding and de-risk the business, so we think the trade-off is worth it … for the subsequent loss of total control”. 

Taylor’s also admitted he’s required to promote this second sale under the terms of the deal.
QAC originally wanted $5250 for the official information released this week but the demand was dropped after the Ombudsman intervened.