Eastland Group and Firstgas Group are pleased to confirm Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval for the acquisition of Eastland Network. The transaction will be completed on 31 March 2023.
Paul Goodeve, Chief Executive, Firstgas Group said, “We are delighted with this news and welcome Eastland Network into Firstgas Group.
“During the last six months we have worked closely with the Eastland Network team to ensure a smooth transition and maintain business as usual. We acknowledge the challenges faced by the East Coast based team, who have also worked tirelessly and courageously throughout the recent extreme weather events.
“While ownership is changing, it’s business as usual and the community will experience the same great service by the same dedicated Network team and contractors who keep the lights on and respond to outage emergencies across the region,” said Goodeve.
Eastland Group chair Matanuku Mahuika said the OIO confirmation of the sale was an important milestone.
“The Network team have spent the last months getting to know the Firstgas Group team. Together they combine local knowledge with national expertise in managing regulated utilities, and this strong combination will benefit the communities of Tairāwhiti and Wairoa.
“As shown in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, the Network staff and contractors play a key role in regional energy resilience. The regulations that apply to Eastland Network mean there are ongoing protections for local consumers around price and quality of supply. We also have the benefit of knowing that we will have the same team delivering these essential services on the ground.”
John Clarke, chair of Eastland Group’s shareholder Trust Tairāwhiti, said that the trustees were looking forward to the opportunities the Network sale would unlock for the region.
“We welcome Firstgas Group to Tairāwhiti. They have a proven track record and, with the support of the local Network staff, will deliver and invest in a reliable electricity supply.”
Part of the transition process has been to develop a new brand and name for Eastland Network.
Goodeve said, “When considering a new name, we wanted to reflect what makes both Eastland Network and Firstgas Group unique and special. One core element is that Tairāwhiti (including Wairoa) is widely known as the first place in the world to see the sun, and I’m pleased to reveal the new name is Firstlight Network.”
Firstgas has significant expertise in managing regulated utilities, and is supported by its shareholder Igneo, an experienced infrastructure owner. Importantly, it has the scale and expertise to own Eastland Network so that it can continue to deliver for Tairāwhiti, Wairoa and the East Coast into the future.
“Firstgas Group is also committed to ensuring it will continue contributing to the prosperity and wellbeing of the region,” added Goodeve.