Eastland Group returns record $9.9 million to ECT

Eastland Group returns record $9.9 million to ECT

  • Eastland Group announces $14.8 million profit for 2017
  • Record $9.9 million paid to shareholder Eastland Community Trust

Eastland Group is the business behind the businesses that are driving the economic growth of the region.

The company recorded another strong business performance in the year to March 2017. Income increased to a record $76.2 million, with an audited profit of $14.8 million.

Some of these profits are being earned outside the district, but all are coming back into the Tairāwhiti region.

Eastland Group also returned a record-breaking $9.9 million to its sole shareholder, Eastland Community Trust. This was made up of a fully imputed dividend distribution of $7.8 million ($5.6 million in 2016), and interest paid on shareholder capital notes of $2.1 million. The total paid was $2.2 million up on last year.

“We’re responsible for the reliable operation of Eastland Port, Gisborne Airport and Eastland Network, the electricity network for Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast,” said Eastland Group Chief Executive Matt Todd.

The company also runs Eastland Generation, which produces electricity from predominantly hydro and geothermal plants.

Commercial success for community benefit

“Our commitments include delivering fit-for-purpose infrastructure that enables our customers to operate their businesses successfully; and making strategic long term investments that generate significant returns to our shareholder.

“This year, our staff are particularly proud that we’ve been able to deliver nearly $10 million to ECT. It brings the total we’ve paid to ECT since 2003 to more than $90 million, and every single dollar will benefit the community that owns us.”

Assets worth almost half a billion dollars

In 2002, the year before Eastland Group was formed, the business consisted of just Eastland Network. The following year, it bought Eastland Port, increasing asset value to a combined $80 million.

Through prudent business development and a capital investment programme driven by demand from customers, Eastland Group now has total assets worth $481 million. Three quarters of these assets are in the Gisborne and Wairoa districts.

2017 highlights

Eastland Port continued to break annual records, exporting 2.5 million tonnes of products – an 8.49 percent increase on last year. Approximately $86 million has been spent on capital enhancements at the port since 2010.

“Eastland Port is New Zealand’s third largest and most efficient log export port in New Zealand, with an average of 11,600 tonnes of wood loaded each day. Beyond 2018, volume will continue to grow and around 5 million tonnes of export product is expected per year, and we’re ensuring the port is ready by investing $96 million over the next five years.”

Gisborne Airport, a key regional asset and transport link, continued to develop under Eastland Group’s management. Total passenger movements increased to 156,146, up over 10% on last year. Plans are well underway for a new terminal complex capable of accommodating more people and larger aircraft.

Mr Todd added that another major highlight had been the excellent progress made on the construction of the Te Ahi O Maui geothermal project near Kawerau.

“This is part of our commitment to clean, green renewable energy in New Zealand. Once completed in 2018, Te Ahi O Maui will generate around 25MW of electricity, which is enough to power 25,000 homes. Crucially, it will also provide long term financial returns to ECT and the Tairāwhiti community.”

Other developments in the energy space included the establishment of Eastland Group’s solar trials, announcement of the region’s first fast charging electric vehicle (EV) station, and an increased shareholding (18.6 percent) in innovative electricity business Flick Electric Co.

The year’s electricity use remained steady, with 302 GWHr distributed across Eastland Network. The line charge revenue for the year sat at $34.5 million, while ongoing maintenance and capital expenditure was managed within budget in accordance with Eastland Network’s asset management plan.

Major capital investment planned

“Over the next five years we’re planning to invest an additional $166 million in local infrastructure, which will further contribute to regional economic growth,” explained Mr Todd. “We’ll also be investing around $46 million on predominantly energy assets outside the region.”

Eastland Group’s AGM is in August.