NZ retail acquisition

Canada`s TransAlta Corp. has announced that it is to buy the energy retailing business of New Zealand`s SouthPower for an undisclosed amount. Trans- Alta also said that it would probably sell its New Zealand transmission lines business in response to government liberalization legislation.

The SouthPower deal gives TransAlta New Zealand the single largest base of retail customers in the country, with over 300 000 customers spread over Wellington and Christ- church. The company is aiming to continue pursuing opportunities which will build its share of the retail electricity market in New Zealand.

Electricity companies operating in New Zealand must decide within the next five years between owning transmission lines or retail and generating assets as the industry deregulates. TransAlta has said that it is currently in discussions with interested parties over the sale of its transmission assets which it may complete by the end of 1998. It is also aiming to grow its generation assets.