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Marsden Maritime eyes benefits from upper North Island transport study

Wednesday 17th October 2018

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The government’s strategic review of upper North Island logistics chains may recognise the value of Northport in a way previous studies did not, Marsden Maritime Holdings chair John Goulter says.

He said the potential of the port, and the importance of Marsden’s landholdings directly behind it, are obvious to the company’s shareholders. Yet in the past that message had not resonated “quite so loudly.”

“It is therefore gratifying to note that the new government’s Upper North Island supply chain strategy provides opportunities for the development of Northport,” he said in notes for Marsden’s annual meeting yesterday.

“With this strategy and the Northland rail study having got underway just weeks ago, we look forward to a more balanced view of these assets in the political and national consciousness, with benefits potentially arising in the form of improved roading, rail, and other infrastructure.”

Shares in the company were unchanged at $5.25.

Marsden owns half of Northport in partnership with Port of Tauranga. It is also developing 185 hectares of land adjacent to the port and operates the Marsden Cove marina.

Marsden is in turn owned almost 54 percent by Northland Regional Council, with Ports of Auckland also owning just under 20 percent of the listed company.

In August the Ministry of Transport named a five-strong panel to consider a range of transport and infrastructure issues in the upper North Island.

The group was specifically tasked with looking at potential future locations for Ports of Auckland, and priorities for other transport infrastructure, across road, rail and coastal shipping.

A Northport redevelopment could include refurbishment and extension of rail freight services into Northland, and could ultimately include moving the Royal New Zealand Navy's Devonport base to Whangarei.

Northport contributes most of Marsden Maritime’s revenue. It handled 3.56 million tonnes of cargo in the June year, about 2 percent less than a year earlier, largely due to lower log and other forestry exports.

Maritime’s net surplus fell 6 percent to $9.4 million, reflecting lower revaluation gains on the firm’s property interests and lower than planned marina earnings due to the delayed start of a new boat haul-out service.

Goulter said that while log volumes are potentially trending down, it was pleasing to see the increasing diversification of cargo through the port.

The introduction of a fortnightly coastal container shipping service to Brisbane and Singapore by Mediterranean Shipping Co earlier this year is also encouraging, he said.

“I would note, however, that securing this service long-term is reliant on local support.”

(BusinessDesk)

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