On track . . . Trustpower’s 100 Oamaru staff are expected to move into the company’s new purpose-built premises in Severn St in late August. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Mercury NZ Limited has committed to retaining Trustpower’s Oamaru office for the “foreseeable future”, after agreeing to buy the New Zealand company’s gas, telecommunications and retail electricity supply business for $441 million.

On Monday, Trustpower announced the sale to Mercury, conditional on Commerce Commission approval, the restructure of the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust and Trustpower shareholder approval.

Trustpower has had a customer service centre in Oamaru since 2007, when it bought the Call South telecommunications business. In February last year, it announced plans to move from its Thames St site to a new purpose-built premises in Severn St, and construction started about four months later.

Trustpower customer operations general manager Fiona Smith said Mercury had stated it was committed to retaining Trustpower’s Oamaru and Tauranga offices for the “foreseeable future”.

“The future certainly looks bright for our people,” Mrs Smith said.

She expected the company’s 100 Oamaru staff to move into the new Severn St premises in late August, before the sale was completed.

“We are very excited about the move to our new building.

“We are still on track for a late August move in and have our fingers crossed that any new niggly supply-chain issues, being felt across New Zealand, don’t impact the delivery of the fit-out.”

The new offices in Severn St were being developed by de Geest Construction and, as much as it could, Trustpower was using local suppliers, she said.

Trustpower chief executive David Prentice said the majority of employees would get the opportunity to transfer to Mercury.

“Of the rest of the employees, most will remain with the generation business,” Mr Prentice said.

Mercury chief executive Vince Hawksworth, who was the chief executive of Trustpower for 10 years until January 2020, said Mercury and Trustpower were two “highly complementary organisations”, and the sale would bring the “best of both” together.

“Customers will continue to enjoy all the great services and support they have today with Trustpower and with Mercury,” Mr Hawksworth said.

The sale to Mercury comes after the Trustpower announced it was undertaking a strategic review to test market interest in its retail business while exploring the merits and business case to establish a stand-alone generation business. Mr Prentice will become the chief executive of Trustpower’s new generation business.

“New Zealand needs to greatly increase renewable energy generation to aid the de-carbonisation and electrification of the economy and we are in a unique position to play a role in helping the country achieve its climate change targets,” he said.

Trustpower chairman Paul Ridley-Smith said there were several interested parties in the acquisition of the company’s retail business.

The sale of the business was expected to take effect later this year or in early 2022, following the conditions being met. Until then, it was “business as usual” for Trustpower, Mr Ridley-Smith said.