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CentrePort resumes dividend payments as it bounces back from Kaikoura earthquake

Friday 29th June 2018

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CentrePort has resumed dividend payments to its regional council shareholders as the Wellington port operator bounces back from the impact of the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, which was the biggest adverse event in its history.

The port company said today it will pay a $2 million interim 2018 dividend to its shareholders, the Wellington and Manawatu-Wanganui regional councils, after halting payments in the 2017 financial year due to its capital requirements rebuilding the port following the quake.

CentrePort was forced to suspend operations immediately after the quake as it dealt with damage to its buildings and liquefaction and it was forced to modify its services to get them up and running. However chair Lachie Johnstone said today that CentrePort was now able to resume its dividend payments as the port returns to pre-earthquake levels of performance in most business units.

“The business is operating strongly with volumes of logs, cars and petroleum at or surpassing pre-quake numbers, and well on the way back in container volumes. We’ve also experienced a bumper cruise ship season," Johnstone said in a statement.

“Our people have done a tremendous job in the quake response and ongoing remedial work while getting on with ‘business as usual’. I also acknowledge the support of our shareholders through a challenging period," he said.

The port company posted a profit of $4.9 million in the first six months of its 2018 financial year to Dec. 31, 2017. That compares with a loss of $35.7 million from continuing operations in the year-earlier period, which widened to a loss of $85.7 million after including a $50 million provision for port land.

The company signalled at its half-year earnings announcement in February that it expected to remain in profit and should be in a good place to pay a dividend this financial year.

CentrePort has set aside $63 million to invest in making the port more resilient, strengthening its ground and key wharves to be able to handle Kaikoura-type events in the future and is working with consultants from Germany's Hamburg Port as it formulates a master plan for the operation.

“While there are ongoing challenges, CentrePort is looking to the future with confidence," said chief executive Derek Nind. "We are working on a regeneration plan to ensure the port continues to support the central New Zealand region’s growth and prosperity."

(BusinessDesk)

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