WELLINGTON Aug 12 New Zealand's two biggest
Maori commercial groups have joined forces to buy one of the
country's major bus operators in a further example of their
growing financial strength.
Ngai Tahu Holdings Corp Ltd and Tainui Group Holdings Ltd
said on Tuesday they had bought Go Bus Ltd, one of the country's
biggest public transport operators, from Australian private
equity firm Next Capital.
"We look for businesses that are well run, have an ability
to grow, and have strong underpinnings," said Tainui chief
executive Mike Pohio.
He said Go Bus, which provides public bus services in half a
dozen cities including the second biggest - Christchurch -
offered growth and investment diversification.
Pohio declined to confirm media reports that the deal was
worth NZ$170 million ($143 million). Ngai Tahu will hold
two-thirds of the joint venture and Tainui the rest.
In February, the two tribes joined local private equity firm
Pioneer Capital to buy the country's biggest dairy equipment
maker Waikato Milking Systems Ltd.
They were also part of an unsuccessful bid for Transpacific
Industries' New Zealand waste management business that was sold
to the Beijing Capital Group.
The deal is the latest sign of the growing commercial
strength of New Zealand's indigenous Maori people, who make up
about 15 percent of the country's 4.5 million, but top many of
the tables of social and economic deprivation.
The two tribes have had a co-investment agreement since 2007
and Pohio said they were on the lookout for suitable investments
"We're looking for partners to further our growth, and
private equity is an avenue, although they have a tendency to a
short-term approach and that doesn't necessarily align with us
and our longer-term horizon," Pohio said.
The South Island-based Ngai Tahu and central-North Island's
Tainui received hundreds of millions of dollars in cash and land
in the 1990s from the government to settle historic land
They have since turned the settlements into billion dollar
entities, with extensive interests in property, farming, fishing
and forestry, as well as investments in hotels, energy, and
($1=1.1865 New Zealand dollar)
(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Neil Fullick)