The latest from Managing Editor Pattrick Smellie

Pattrick was judged New Zealand's best overall columnist and business columnist of the year at the Voyager 2021 Media Awards. He has more than 35 years’ experience reporting and working in New Zealand politics and the commercial sector. A former Press Gallery chairman, he is an award-winning journalist and has worked for titles including The Dominion, The Press, Sunday Star-Times and National Business Review. He was the first NZ correspondent for The Australian and co-founded BusinessDesk in 2008.

FIRST CUT: Weldon resigns from MediaWorks: 'personal cost too high'
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 03 May 2016

By Pattrick Smellie May 4 (BusinessDesk) - MediaWorks' controversial chief executive Mark Weldon has resigned, just two days after his chairman, Rod McGeoch, backed him. Citing the "personal cost" as "too high", Weldon leaves a position he took up in August 2014 to oversee...

2degrees ASX float in the offing
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 03 May 2016

By Pattrick Smellie May 3 (BusinessDesk) - Australian media reports suggesting New Zealand's third-placed mobile operator, Two Degrees, will seek to raise between $100 million and $150 million in a float on the ASX in the next few months have the implicit support of the compan...

Payment to creditors of Kea Petroleum 'highly unlikely': liquidator
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 01 May 2016

By Pattrick Smellie May 2 (BusinessDesk) - A payment to any creditors of the Kea Petroleum group of companies "seems highly unlikely", and depends on the sale of Kea's Mauku-1 exploration permit, says the Deloitte liquidator for the onshore Taranaki oil and gas explorer, which...

Mighty River Power no more, now just Mercury
Pattrick Smellie | Sun, 01 May 2016

By Pattrick Smellie May 2 (BusinessDesk) - Auckland-based electricity generator and retailer Mighty River Power is changing its name to Mercury Energy, in a move that underlines the increasing retail focus of the country's largest power companies. Known as MRP since it was...

Shanghai Pengxin knocked back on massive Australian farm purchase
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 29 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 29 (BusinessDesk) - Already locked out of a major farm and forestry purchase in New Zealand last year, an Australian arm of the Chinese Shanghai Pengxin global conglomerate has today been told it can't buy one of Australia's largest farms, covering ar...

Trustpower earnings dip on weak electricity demand, marketing costs
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 29 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 29 (BusinessDesk) - Weak prices for wholesale electricity in New Zealand and higher marketing costs saw Tauranga-based integrated energy and telecommunications utility Trustpower's operating earnings fall 1 percent in the year to March 31 in what is l...

Z cleared to buy Caltex assets, must sell 20 petrol stations
Pattrick Smellie | Thu, 28 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 29 (BusinessDesk) - Z Energy is allowed to buy the Caltex and Challenge! petrol station chains but must sell 19 of its retail sites and one truck-stop, the Commerce Commission has ruled in a split decision that acknowledges possible retail price coord...

KiwiRail invited to run new Wairoa-Napier log train
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 27 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 28 (BusinessDesk) - The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has amended its bid to reopen the railway between Napier and Wairoa by proposing that KiwiRail run the service as well as maintain the tracks under a proposal signed off in a closed-doors council me...

Supreme Court rejects smelter's bid to challenge $20m lieu days decision
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 27 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 27 (BusinessDesk) - The Supreme Court has rejected an application by the operator of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter to challenge a High Court decision requiring it to stump up some $20 million in back-pay after a complaint from the smelter workers'...

Ruataniwha irrigation scheme hits farmer uptake targets
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 27 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 27 (BusinessDesk) - Enough Hawke's Bay farmers have signed up for water from the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme for it to go ahead as long as a cornerstone institutional capital investor can be found to back it, its regional council promoter...

KiwiRail seeks four years' funding under 'value of rail' accord
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 26 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 26 (BusinessDesk) -  KiwiRail is starting negotiations for a new funding package it hopes will run from 2017 to 2020 and is looking for a small number of rail upgrade projects that will demonstrate that there is a "value of rail" to New Zealand beyond...

Treasury examines asset 'buy-back' scheme and taxing powers for Auckland Council
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 26 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 26 (BusinessDesk) - Central government could buy assets for Auckland on the city council's behalf under a buy-back scheme to help accelerate the infrastructure required to ensure the fast-growing city's housing and population needs are met more urgent...

Bennett 'taking advice' on cancelling 'dodgy' carbon credits
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 26 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 26 (BusinessDesk) - Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett is "taking advice" on whether to cancel some or all of the so-called 'dodgy' carbon credits bought mainly by power and petrol companies to cover New Zealand's future obligations to reduce emiss...

Half billion dollars pledged to upgrade Tauranga to Waihi route
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 22 Apr 2016

April 22 (BusinessDesk) - The government is pledging roading projects to ease congestion and improve freight links for Tauranga worth $520 million over the next decade. The largest project, starting construction in 2018, will be the $286 million Tauranga Northern Link, which w...

Water needs a price, reforms require urgency, submitters say
Pattrick Smellie | Fri, 22 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 22 (BusinessDesk) - The government's freshwater management reforms need to be re-energised, lack ambitious timetables and avoid hard questions like pricing water, say submissions from a range of tourism and environmental groups on the proposed "next s...

Energy sector veteran to lead Chch anchor projects company
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 19 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 19 (BusinessDesk) - Retiring Genesis Energy chief executive Albert Brantley is to be the chief executive of the newly created Crown company overseeing construction of Christchurch's so-called 'anchor' projects. An energy sector veteran, Brantley wi...

Potential buyers line up for ANZ Bank's UDC finance business
Pattrick Smellie | Tue, 19 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 19 (BusinessDesk) - Private equity buyers would have an advantage over banks in bidding for ANZ Bank New Zealand's UDC Finance business because they would not be bound by capital adequacy ratio requirements, says First NZ Capital in analysis that sugg...

Little promotes Faafoi to shadow Labour Cabinet, Cosgrove keeps business role
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 18 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 19 (BusinessDesk) - Labour Party leader Andrew Little has promoted Wellington MP and former broadcaster Kris Faafoi to the tourism portfolio to fill a gap left by departing MP Clayton Cosgrove, who nonetheless keeps the commerce portfolio and a new 'b...

Flavell forges ahead with Te Ture Whenua Act reform
Pattrick Smellie | Thu, 14 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 14 (BusinessDesk) - Maori Affairs Minister Te Uruora Flavell has surprised political opponents by introducing a Te Ture Whenua Act reform bill to Parliament, arguing that drafting changes and consultation in recent months meets the concerns of last ye...

More predictable regulation for NZ's telecom backbone post-2020
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 13 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 14 (BusinessDesk) - The copper and fibre-optic networks used for New Zealand telecommunications services will move to a simpler, more predictable form of regulation, similar to that used for regulating the monopoly parts of the electricity system, Com...

UPDATE: Key announces major provisional tax changes for business
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 13 Apr 2016

(Adds comments from Key, additional detail) By Pattrick Smellie April 13 (BusinessDesk) - Lumpy provisional tax payments and penalties caused by income miscalculation will become a thing of the past for small and medium-sized businesses under a business tax reform package a...

FIRST CUT: Key announces major provisional tax reforms
Pattrick Smellie | Wed, 13 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 13 (BusinessDesk) - Lumpy provisional tax payments will become a thing of the past for small and medium sized businesses under a business tax reform package announced by Prime Minister John Key in the first major speech ahead of the May 28 Budget....

Long-awaited grid cost-sharing paper due May 17
Pattrick Smellie | Mon, 11 Apr 2016

By Pattrick Smellie April 12 (BusinessDesk) - A long-awaited recommendation on how the cost of the national electricity grid should be shared in future is due on May 17. The Electricity Authority says it will release its transmission pricing methodology paper and run an eig...


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