Eastland Group today announced a record audited profit of $15.2 million for the year ended 31 March 2016.
The Gisborne-based specialist infrastructure company is 100 percent owned by Eastland Community Trust. Its operations include Eastland Port, Gisborne Airport and Eastland Network – the electricity network for Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast – as well as Eastland Generation, which produces electricity from hydro, diesel and geothermal plants.
“Every dollar we make is a dollar that will benefit our community,” said chief executive Matt Todd.
As sole shareholder, ECT was paid a fully imputed dividend of $5.6 million (2015 $5.0 million). Interest paid on shareholder capital notes was $2.1 million (2015 $2.6 million), meaning the total dividend and interest paid to the shareholder was $7.9 million (2015 $7.6 million).
Mr Todd said that in 2003 when the company bought Eastland Port, it had $80 million of assets and now, 13 years’ later, Eastland Group’s assets are worth $422 million, as a result of a capital investment programme driven by increasing demand from customers.
“Our financial success has allowed us to increase our returns to the shareholder, and has also enabled our customers – who are predominantly businesses – to operate effectively – generating economic growth for our region. That’s something we are unashamedly proud of and something we aim to continue.
“The businesses we operate require a large amount of up-front capital investment to earn returns over a long period of time. While Eastland Group achieved a record profit of $15.2m million, up $1.1 million on 2015’s $14.1 million, we’re also very focussed on ensuring our assets are well maintained and are fit for purpose.”
Significant investments over the past twelve months included the completion of Eastland Port’s $12 million upper log yard. “Our continued investment at the port aims to meet expected future demand from customers at the same time as we strive to improve both operating efficiency and safety.”
A $2.5 million project to reseal Gisborne Airport’s runway was completed in April 2015, in time for Eastland Group’s tenth anniversary celebrations.
“We’ve been operating the airport since 1 April 2005, on lease from Gisborne District Council. Since that time, council has remained the asset owner, but Eastland Group has operated, managed and developed the airport, investing over $5 million in capital projects as well as paying the council more than $1 million in rent.”
Other highlights of the year were the company’s decision to proceed with development of its Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project near Kawerau, a cornerstone investment in high-growth electricity business Flick Electric Co, and record export volumes of 2.3 million tonnes at Eastland Port.
The transfer of Transpower’s Gisborne and Wairoa 110kV assets to Eastland Network on 31 March 2015, was a significant step towards Eastland Group’s growth aspirations, said Mr Todd.
“The network’s acquisition of the transmission assets helped increase its operating profit, albeit in the context of a regulatory environment that limits upside and a market that is still flat in terms of connection and demand growth.”
He said the company’s commitment to the Tairawhiti/Gisborne region was ongoing. “Over the next five years Eastland Group plans to invest $123.5 million in local infrastructure.”