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Leeann Watson17 May 20242 min read

Business Canterbury calls for Council to review its oversight of CCHL

In light of half of the Christchurch City Holdings Limited (CCHL) board resigning yesterday, Business Canterbury (formerly the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce) is calling for the Council to review the effectiveness of its oversight of our region’s strategic assets.

Business Canterbury Chief Executive, Leeann Watson says "All of the CCHL subsidiary companies, including the Port of Lyttelton, Christchurch International Airport, Enable, and Orion are world-class and critical in supporting the sustainable growth of Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region."

"Last year, Business Canterbury was supportive of the active asset management approach presented to the Council by the CCHL board, given that it proposed a forward-thinking strategy allowing capital flows for growth and significant longer-term dividend returns, reducing future pressures on rates."

"The irony here is that the Council rejected a CCHL proposal in December which would allow it to increase dividend returns and reduce rates pressure significantly, then just months later sent a letter of expectation to substantially increase short-term dividend returns without any additional capital and at the same time as presenting 14 plus per cent rates rises - in my view an impossible situation for CCHL and Christchurch rate payers.

"It has become clear to businesses that the Council, despite setting up the CCHL governance structure to provide a layer of political neutrality in the governance of our strategic assets, is not effective in its oversight of CCHL.

"Being agile and operating with foresight is what businesses do, particularly during challenging economic times like those we are operating in right now.

"The obvious lack of commercial acumen from Councillors in rejecting a different approach for CCHL has unfortunately led to the resignation of four independent board members, and will ultimately impact on the investment required for our strategic assets to support the growth of Canterbury into the future.

"With the Council oversight of CCHL causing disarray, the obvious question is who would put their hand up to take the board places now vacant, and govern an organisation with limited ability to operate commercially and independently of elected members?

"As was put to the Council in Business Canterbury’s submission on its draft Long Term Plan, we are heading into a ‘golden decade’ for Christchurch and Canterbury. Now is the time to reset how the Council oversees CCHL, so it can better do its part in driving our region into the 2030s and beyond."


Leeann Watson

Creating inspirational leadership and a culture of innovation for Business Canterbury and being a raving enthusiast for the city, region and our business community.