New Zealand’s government sells 20 per cent of national airline as part of contentious program

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand’s government has sold 20 per cent of the national airline as part of a contentious asset sales program.

The sale of Air New Zealand shares Tuesday raised 365 million New Zealand dollars ($304 million). The shares sold for the same price they last traded on the New Zealand stock market before it called a trading halt.

The government will retain a majority 53 per cent stake in the airline.

Eighty four per cent of the shares were bought by New Zealand retail investors and institutions.

The government says asset sales will help it reduce debt and increase spending on hospitals, schools and roads. But many New Zealanders oppose the sales, saying they are unnecessary and ideologically driven.

Air New Zealand will resume normal trading on the country’s stock market Wednesday.