BCI shareholders raise $25m for buy-out

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Shareholders in the Barrhill Chertsey irrigation scheme are positive about its future – so positive they have raised more than $25 million to take total control of the scheme.

Around 80 per cent of the 150 farmer shareholders in the co-operative supported the buy out of partner EA Networks by putting up their money.

The co-operative had to raise a minimum of $17.6m by last week to enable the buy out.

The electricity company’s shareholding was $26m and arrangements have been made to borrow the balance needed to complete the transaction.

General manager of BCI John Wright said the result was very successful and higher than expected by the board.

It is planned to settle the transaction on September 29, with the shareholders taking 100 per cent control of the co-operative.

Electricity Ashburton’s initial capital contribution enabled the scheme to begin in 2010.

Further expansion has followed and the scheme now delivers water to about 20,000 hectares.

The buy out reflected that it was time for the co-operative to be in control of its destiny, Mr Wright said.

A scheduled review had shown it was timely to consider the buy out and shareholders supported it, he said.

The scheme has applied for consent to construct a water storage pond alongside the Rangitata Diversion Race, about five kilometres north east of Methven.

Mr Wright said the application was still going through the consenting process but it was hoped the storage facility would be built by the end of the year.

It will have a capacity of 1.6 million cubic metres and cover 40 hectares. It would be filled out of the Rangitata Diversion Race with the water going directly into the BCI pipe network.

There are also plans to extend the scheme to around 1500ha in the Cavendish and Anama area, Mr Wright said.

These were held up at present while appeals on Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 2 to its Land and Water Regional Plan, were heard.

Once the appeals were resolved it was hoped the new line would be laid and be operating by spring 2018, Mr Wright said.