Archive | Sectors

Small rise in migrant inflow, but Auckland gain marches onward

New Zealand’s net migrant inflow continued upward in February, rising by 28 above the previous record, set in January, to 71,333 for the last 12 months.

The increase over the year to February 2016 was almost 4000, from 67,391.

For the month of February, the net inflow was 8609 (8581 a year earlier). Arrivals totalled 13,793 (13,267), departures 5184 (4686).

Exits to Australia jumped 10% for the month over a year ago to 2564 (2331), and the annual number of departures rose to 24,650 (24,204). Arrivals from Australia rose by 3 for the month to 2235, but are down over the year to 25,684 (25,810), reducing the net annual trans-Tasman gain to 1034 (1606).

The net outflow of NZ citizens continued to decline this February – 3059 out, 2662 in for a net outflow of 397 (439 last February). For the year, the net outflow was 1687 – 31,914 in, 33,601 out – down 57% from the previous 12 months. The next outflow in the February 2012 year was 38,769, falling to 36,713 in 2013 and 17,786 in 2014.

And the flow into Auckland continues, up 653 for the month and up nearly 4300 for the year. The net inflow for the month was 4543 (3890), and for the year 35,313 (31,035). Annual arrivals have risen from 46,954 2 years ago to 52,407 and now 57,156, while departures have held in a range from 21,370-21,850 over those 3 years.

Attribution: Statistics NZ tabales.

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Fletcher Building cuts earnings guidance by $110 million

Fletcher Building Ltd has dropped its range earnings guidance for the year to June by $110 million (before interest, tax & significant items).

The range when chief executive Mark Adamson (above) delivered the half-year results on 22 February was $720-760 million. The range now is $610-650 million.

Mr Adamson said today: “The revised guidance is due to the identification of additional estimated losses & downside risk in the buildings & interiors business unit of the construction division.

“A thorough review of the buildings & interiors business & projects began in late calendar year 2016 and led to new management & governance processes. A significant loss was recorded for buildings & interiors in the half-year results based on the best estimate available at the time. However, management has now identified an increase in the estimated loss on the major construction project which was referenced at the time of the announcement of the first-half results, and the identification of downside risk on other buildings & interiors projects, with the majority being a provision for expected losses on one other major project….

“For reasons of client confidentiality, we will not name the projects. We expect one of the projects to complete within the next few months, and the other is targeting completion in the 2019 financial year.”

The second project had been expected to make a $10 million ebit contribution to 2018 earnings.

Mr Adamson said all other business units within the construction division had continued their strong trading performance. “However, taking into account the new estimates of profitability for the commercial construction projects, it is now expected that the construction division as a whole will report a loss at the ebit level for the 2017 financial year.

“Trading for Fletcher Building’s other divisions remains in line with expectations previously discussed in the first-half earnings commentary.”

Specific questions

In a Q&A section of his release, Mr Adamson said: “The major projects involved are large & highly complex. Project reports & reviews received since the half-year results announcement have indicated significantly higher costs to complete the projects, and have also enabled improved quantification of remaining risks. In addition, the detailed review by new management has led to downward revisions in expected profits on a number of smaller projects.

“The most significant issues relate to complexity in design, subcontractor management and building programme delivery on key projects. This has led to an extension of project timelines and increase in project resource requirements & costs, relative to original budgets. The extent of this has become more apparent since the half-year announcement as new management & processes have bedded in.”

As a result of this debacle, Mr Adamson said Fletcher Building had appointed a chief operating officer for the construction division, a new head of risk & governance in the construction division, and a new general manager of the buildings & interiors business unit would start shortly. We have new finance leadership & processes along with the recent implementation of a new financial management reporting system. The criteria for bidding major construction projects have been made more stringent, and internal review processes for proposed & existing projects have been strengthened. We believe these changes will drive improvement in future periods.”

Would the update also impact the outlook for financial year 2018? Mr Adamson said: “Fletcher Building does not provide guidance beyond the current financial year, however we have tried to be conservative in estimating the losses in the current construction book, and trading in our other divisions remains in line with our expectations.”

Mr Adamson said he wouldn’t discuss potential claims: “We do not discuss matters related to claims publicly. Whenever we have issues on a construction project, we endeavour to work constructively with our clients & other relevant parties to resolve them. Where we have a robust basis for a claim we will consider our position carefully.

Do these issues point to a systemic issue in your construction book? “We don’t think these issues are systemic because they are primarily related to programme & design challenges on a small number of major projects. We are very cognisant of pressure on labour & sub-contractor resource in the New Zealand construction industry at present, and need to ensure we manage this effectively in current projects & future bids. We believe that the changes we are making to strengthen our governance, management processes & bidding criteria and review & approval processes will enable improved performance in the future.

What proportion of the contracts in the construction book are fixed price? “Our current construction backlog is about $2.7 billion. Of this, about $1.5 billion is in the buildings & interiors business. All but one of our major projects underway in buildings & interiors is either a ‘fixed price lump sum’ or ‘guaranteed maximum price’ contract. This is standard in the commercial construction industry. We do not believe the issues we have uncovered relate to contract type, but rather challenges related to programme & design complexity in key projects.”

Has the growth in the buildings & interiors business been driven by a deliberate strategy to boost volume growth for the building products division? “Building products operates as an independent division to construction and supplies product to the construction division’s projects on arm’s length terms. We estimate that sales from building products businesses to buildings & interiors make up less than 5% of total building products revenue.”

Despite the reduction in forecast cashflows from the construction division in financial year 2017, Mr Adamson said the company remained comfortably within its banking covenants & target debt metrics and expected to continue to do so: “Based on the updated guidance range, we expect the ratio of net debt:net debt + equity to be around 34% at the end of financial year 2017, and the ratio of net debt:ebitda to be about 2.4 times.”

Earlier story:
19 July 2017: Fletcher Building to explain construction loss Monday morning

Attribution: Company release.

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Council value for money review gets tick tomorrow

Auckland Council goes to the basics of the super-city tomorrow when its finance & performance committee will formally institute a “value for money” programme review aimed at lifting efficiency savings from $183 million in 2014-15 to $300 million/year by 2025.

The cost-effectiveness review programme also lifts the supervision of council-controlled organisations – particularly the big ones, Auckland Transport, Watercare Services Ltd & Ateed (Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development Ltd) – from sniping when one of those organisations steps out of line, to a closer performance audit.

When the super-city council was formed at the 2010 council elections, the new council had a number of key tasks to do, all at once: rationalise services & expenses, equalise costs to ratepayers across all the old 7 territorial council areas, and establish what the new council should & shouldn’t do. On top of that broad equalising, the council had major plans to create for specific areas and, for the whole region, the unitary plan that would combine regional policy statements & district plans in one document.

Given tight timeframes for everything it was doing, the new council didn’t try to go back to ground level in 2010 and decide then exactly what it should be doing across the whole region but, naturally, chose to work with the previous councils’ programmes and whittle them down to a consistent presentation.

Now, the work starts in earnest.

Section 17A of the Local Government Act requires councils to review “the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions”. A review must consider options for the governance, funding & delivery of infrastructure, services & regulatory functions.

The review laid out for the finance & performance committee by value for money programme manager Sally Garrett introduces “a framework to evaluate expenditure and to provide greater accountability to the governing body & the ratepayer on what is being achieved with public expenditure. The objective of the programme is to analyse cost-effectiveness in a systematic manner across the Auckland Council group and to provide a basis on which more informed decisions can be made on long-term planning priorities.”

The first 3-year review programme starts with 2 phases, initially focusing on activities & services considered high priority to assist in the development of the 2018 long-term plan. Ms Garrett says in her report to the committee it’s assumed each review will take 2-4 months and that up to 4 reviews can be run at the same time.

The first 4 reviews will be:

  • 3 waters – water, wastewater & stormwater budget categories
  • Domestic waste – domestic waste services including refuse, recycling, inorganics & organic services
  • Organisational support – communications & engagement services across the council group, followed by a rolling series of reviews including transactional services, payroll, finance, information systems, procurement, human resources, customer services & legal functions, and
  • Investment attractions & global partnerships – how investment attraction & global partnership services are delivered across the group.

Under the programme, expert panels will be appointed in April-May, data for the first 4 reviews will be collected & analysed from May-August, and conclusions & recommendations will flow from July-September.

The woman managing the programme, Sally Garrett, has a long history in this type of work, first in her 5 years as a principal in Ernst & Young’s management strategy group, then for 6 years as Watercare’s business services general manager. During 3 years as an independent consultant, Ms Garrett assisted the royal commission on Auckland governance and put together the programme for Auckland City Council to manage the transition to the super-city council, including overseeing the due diligence phase and the migration of staff & assets.

She joined Auckland Council in 2012 to manage the finance transformation programme and was appointed to run the value for money programme in 2015.

Attribution: Committee agenda.

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Unlock Henderson project moves toward firm transformation proposal

Council property & development arm Panuku Development Auckland will present proposals to the Henderson-Massey Local Board tomorrow for the transformation of Henderson town centre, based on residential intensification at 3 clusters of sites.

The proposals fall under Panuku’s unlock category of centre transformation developed in 2015 – the main category for big projects, transform, is being led by plans for Onehunga & Manukau Central and work already underway in the Wynyard Quarter and under the Tamaki regeneration partnership; the unlock category covers 7 centres plus housing for the elderly; and the third category, support, covers another 8 centres.

Senior project planning leader Richard Davison, who wrote an extensive paper on how to unlock value in Henderson and transform the town centre, said the vision built on the strong foundations of Waitakere City’s eco-city & inclusive approach.

To get to this stage, Panuku has worked with both the local board & mana whenua, but the assessment which led to Henderson being listed as a transformation target in the first place wasn’t flattering. Mr Davison wrote:

“The Henderson centre is fragmented by the 2 streams & the rail corridor, impacting the connectivity from east to west and from the surrounding suburbs into the central area.

“A combination of reduced public reinvestment & maintenance, along with the poor market perception, exacerbated by local crime rates, the area’s lower socio-economic profile and a main street dominated by shopfront vacancies has acted as a deterrent for private investors & businesses to take risks in delivering new projects to the market.

“While there is a broad & general demand for residential growth, the current housing stock lacks diversity, with apartments & terraced housing difficult to justify or get off the ground in a market that has a limited appetite and a clear limit to price point.

“Thus, combined with an eroded strategic mandate, Henderson has been rendered a financially challenging development location. Therefore, Henderson was chosen as a Panuku ‘unlock’ location as a result of a council-led assessment across the region’s urban centres that had potential for urban regeneration.”

Panuku’s high level project plan is aimed at catalysing & reinvigorating “wider private development potential in central Henderson through 3 broad stages of proposed development on specific council landholdings within the project area. The plan takes a cross-council, town centre-wide view of property opportunities to potentially facilitate & enable high quality, residential-led development.”

Panuku sees opportunities for the short, medium & long term in 3 land clusters. 2 along Henderson Valley Rd are the council site (the old Waitakere City Council headquarters) and the film studios area. The third cluster is a group of surface carparks in key central & gateway locations, which Mr Davison said would create the most urban impact if developed.

Panuku seeks the local board’s endorsement of the proposed vision, the 5 principles that would guide development and the 4 goals guiding development.

Assuming effective transformation, Henderson would have high quality medium-density residential & commercial development, walking & cycling links supporting the Twin Streams pathway, public art and Henderson Valley Rd turned into a high quality, mixed-use residential corridor.

Attribution: Local board agenda.

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Stokes turn eyes from retirement villages to luxury apartments on Avon

Retirement village owners & operators Chris & Jenny Stokes, who sold their interests in the Aria villages to newly listed retirement village operator Arvida Group Ltd in 2015, have come up with a different proposition for their hometown, Christchurch.

They lodged the resource consent application last week for the luxury Upper House Apartments at 108 Park Terrace, across the Avon River from North Hagley Park, and plan to build 4 430m² apartments & a 680m² 2-storey penthouse in the exclusive development.

Harcourts marketing agent Grant Chappell said the building would combine superior design & materials with innovative structural systems to ensure protection from natural disasters.

Mr Stokes said there was demand for generously sized properties with 5-star home comforts as well as the security, privacy & low maintenance of apartment living: “Multi-unit apartment blocks are everywhere, but Upper House has been developed with luxury & sophistication in mind.

“We want people to enjoy the benefits of an apartment without living in a shoebox. Upper House will be the only large format apartments on the market that are opulent, stylish & functional.”

The 3-bedroom homes will have 2.7m-high ceilings, climate control, open plan living, a media room, a home office, 2 basement parking spaces, storage, a car washdown area, bicycle parks and a lift.

“The outdoor terrace & garden is 50m², which is bigger than a double garage. With an outdoor kitchen & gas fire, it’s the perfect place to entertain friends or enjoy a quiet moment to yourself. The penthouse takes it one step further with a 105m² upper level including a rooftop terrace garden where you can enjoy endless views of the river, treetops, Hagley’s Lake Victoria & the snow-covered Southern Alps.”

Each apartment, designed by Daniel Sullivan and Kate Loader of Architects’ Creative, has a large European-style kitchen with walk-in pantry, breakfast bar & bench space.

The Stokes engaged structural engineer Orlando Barcena from Centraus and Christchurch soil specialists Geotech Engineering to design a pile foundation reaching to Canterbury shingle to ensure solid bearing: “The foundation & basement design use steel framing with buckling restrained braces, which means occupants are not only protected in the event of seismic activity but any damage can be quickly & easily repaired.”

They’re anticipating a 3-month resource consent process, enabling a construction start in September.

The apartments are priced from $3.25 million to $5.7 million for the penthouse.

Attribution: Agency release, Companies Register.

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Hotel proposal unveiled for Simunovich site on Viaduct

Viaduct Harbour Holdings Ltd unveiled plans yesterday for a luxury hotel to replace the Simunovich Fisheries building at One Market Square – on the Viaduct Basin and across the water from Fu Wah International Group’s Park Hyatt Hotel rising in the Wynyard Quarter.

Colliers has been appointed to undertake a global search for a development partner. Its international expressions of interest campaign will close on Tuesday 2 May.

The proposed 165-room hotel would have a 12,000m² floor area on 12 floors on a 1288m² footprint, and a rooftop bar.

One Market Square on the Viaduct Basin cbd towers to left & right in the background.

Viaduct Harbour Holdings chief executive Angela Bull said the company would make the preliminary design by Warren & Mahoney available to the successful development partner, and the development partnership model would keep the waterfront site in New Zealand ownership.

Ms Bull said the Market Square site was exceptional, directly facing the harbour on 2 sides and offering stunning views of Auckland.

“Viaduct Harbour is an outstanding lifestyle precinct in Auckland with unrivalled access to the water, quality restaurants, apartments & an international marina. One Market Square is perfectly positioned for a world-class hotel that will add to the vibrancy & attractiveness of the precinct.”

Colliers national hotels director Dean Humphries said the surge in visitor arrivals in recent years had led to a critical shortage of quality hotel accommodation.

“The Government predicts that Auckland will likely need another 4300 new hotel rooms over the next decade to keep up with current demand projections. The timing is right for this unrivalled site to be developed to its optimal use.”

The owners of Viaduct Harbour Holdings Ltd (the families of Mark Wyborn, Trevor Farmer, Alan Gibbs & Ross Green) bought 28ha around Viaduct Harbour from Ports of Auckland Ltd in 1996. The company has retained the land interest and sold leasehold interests.

The hotel would replace the Simunovich Fisheries building fronting Market Square at the turn of the Viaduct Basin towards the Lighter Basin. Across the water, the ASB Centre and the Park Hyatt on Halsey St.

The Park Hyatt

Across the water on Auckland Council leasehold land in the Wynyard Quarter, the joint venture between local company Hawkins Group Ltd (sold by the McConnell family to Downer EDI Ltd of Australia 10 days ago) & China Construction NZ Ltd is 9 months into construction the Park Hyatt, which is scheduled for completion late next year. It will have a total floor area of 29,000m² & 195 rooms.

China Construction (China State Construction Engineering Corp Ltd) is headquartered in Shanghai and listed on the stock exchange there, and Fu Wah is based in Beijing.

Earlier stories:
9 March 2017: McConnells follow up Harker deal with Hawkins sale to Downer
3 July 2016: Hawkins & China Construction in joint venture to build Park Hyatt on Viaduct Basin
9 September 2015: Waterfront Park Hyatt gets consent
21 November 2014: Chinese hotel on Viaduct waterfront to be a Park Hyatt
16 April 2014: Update: Wynyard hotel construction cost closer to $700,000, leasehold factors undisclosed

Attribution: Agency release.

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2 large units sell in Epsom & Mission Bay

An Epsom townhouse and the middle apartment (lit) of 3 in a block above Mission Bay’s beach were sold at Bayleys auctions this week.

Isthmus east

Epsom

9A Onslow Avenue:
Features: 2-bedroom townhouse, garage
Outcome: sold for $1.29 million
Agent: Lindy Lawton

Mission Bay

19 Selwyn Avenue, unit 2:
Features: cross-leased, 1/3 share in 1196m², 165m² including balconies, air-conditioned 3-bedroom apartment, 2 bathrooms, lift, study, 2 parking spaces
Outgoings: rates $5302/year including gst, maintenance fee $1800/year
Outcome: sold for $3.1 million
Agents: Gary & Vicki Wallace

Attribution: Agency release.

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Local government agency considers 16-year bonds

The NZ Local Government Funding Agency Ltd, set up in 2011 to sell bonds on behalf of member councils, is looking at issuing a 16-year bond in April.

Chief executive Mark Butcher said a bond maturing in 2033 would allow the agency to provide long-dated funding to councils with a better match to their long-dated assets.

It would extend the agency’s debt profile 6 years beyond its longest-dated bond at the moment, which matures in April 2027.

The agency’s bonds trade on the NZX debt market and are rated AA+ (domestic long term) by international credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, the same as the Government’s rating.

The agency has issued $6.8 billion of bonds on behalf of its council members, with 7 maturities from 2017-27. However, chair Craig Stobo said in the half-year report issued in February the agency had issued only $595 million of long-dated bonds over the 6 months to December, adding: “While this is in line with statement of intent forecast, it is one of the lowest issuance amounts over a 6-month period, reflecting reduced borrowing demand from our council members.”

The agency has a bond tender scheduled for Wednesday 5 April and will release tender details 2 days earlier. If it decides to proceed with the 2033 bond, it will release details of that on Tuesday 4 April.

Link:
NZ Local Government Funding Agency

Attribution: Company release.

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Fletcher Building to explain construction loss Monday morning

Fletcher Building Ltd expects to make an announcement on earnings guidance on Monday morning after asking for a trading halt on its shares on the NZX & ASX exchanges on Friday.

The company sought the trading halt while it completed a review of the financial performance of its construction division & impact on earnings guidance.

Chief executive Mark Adamson was more concerned about when construction losses had to appear on the company’s books when he presented the company’s half-year results on 22 February, than explaining how they’d arisen.

“You have to take all of that loss in to the books in the first half,” he said then. “It is in the order of 10s of millions of dollars. It’s a really detailed programme management issue.”

In the results media release, Mr Adamson said: “Construction operating earnings reduced due to the timing of earnings from certain projects being recognised, expensed bid costs, a reduced contribution from Fletcher EQR (Earthquake Recovery in Christchurch) and losses incurred on a major construction project.”

Mr Adamson wouldn’t say whether that one project where the full losses had to be reported for the interim result was the only one where this nature of impact was occurring – and he wouldn’t explain how the country’s biggest construction company could make a loss entering a new site such as SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd’s International Convention Centre or Precinct Properties NZ Ltd’s Commercial Bay.

According to the interim accounts, the construction division increased revenue by 54%, from $748 million in the December 2015 half-year to $1.15 billion in the December 2016 half. Reported operating earnings, and operating earnings on the non-GAAP measure before significant items, were down 33%, from $36 million to $24 million. The group’s $16 million of significant items related to site closures at Fletcher Insulation & Rocla Products ($15 million) and costs associated with acquiring the Higgins business ($1 million).

New Zealand construction operating earnings fell from $26 million in the 2015 half to $1 million in the latest period, while South Pacific construction earnings rose from $10 million to $23 million.

Attribution: Company accounts, release, interim results briefing.

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Rest of Queensgate shopping centre to reopen

Stride Investment Management Ltd said on Wednesday it would reopen the balance of the Queensgate shopping centre in Lower Hutt on Thursday 6 April following completion of demolition of a portion of the carpark & its cinema complex.

The centre was closed for inspection after the Kaikoura earthquake in November and partially reopened 11 days later. It will be reclad and a ground-level carpark put in the place of the current demolition site. Some egress points will also change.

Stride Investment Management has previously announced it will rebuild the cinema complex. In the meantime, regional centre manager Jan Plummer said, the ground-level parking & cladding would be a medium-term solution.

“Shrink-wrapping the building to create protection from the elements will allow contractors to take their time in creating the best possible medium-term design aesthetic, with the intention being that the shrink wrap will still be in place at the time of reopening to allow this work to continue.”

Ms Plummer said retailers whose premises remained closed because of the adjacent demolition would be given a confirmed date to access their stores in the next week.

Queensgate is owned by the Diversified NZ Property Trust.

Attribution: Company release.

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