Court scrap still on over airport deal

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Businessmen opposed to the controversial Queenstown Airport deal will continue with their legal battle following major developments this week. 

Auckland International Airport announced on Monday it’s scrapping the second stage of its Queenstown Airport share buy-in – for now. 

Instead of chasing a further 10.1 per cent stake in the company, Auckland remains a 24.99 per cent shareholder. It secretly bought the stake for $27.7 million last year. 

The Queenstown Community Strategic Assets Group, which includes property developers, Rich-Listers and two ex-mayors, has asked the High Court for a judicial review – and spokesman Richard Mehrtens says this week’s development makes no change to their views. 

“The airport should be 100 per cent community owned and controlled. In an ideal world those shares should never have been issued and the price paid for them will always be at large because they didn’t go to market.
“The judicial review of the lawfulness of the first stage remains the key issue. If our view prevails, then the consequences of that are obvious.” 

Air New Zealand is also ploughing on with its application for judicial review. 

Mehrtens says Auckland’s scrapping of its second stage buy-in is “positive”. 

“We hope more good news is to follow to fix this mess. In the meantime the court case continues, incurring costs.” 

Meanwhile, Queenstown Lakes District Council has released its independent report into the deal by PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

It says the case for Auckland upping its stake is “not compelling” whilst the price per share that Auckland paid for its 24.99 per cent stake was “relatively high”. 

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Read the full PricewaterCoopers report here