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New Zealand Super proposes consortium to build Auckland light rail system

The NZ$38 billion ($26.9 billion) New Zealand Superannuation Fund has submitted an unsolicited proposal to New Zealand's government to form an international consortium to "design, build and operate" a planned light rail network for Auckland, a government news release said Wednesday.

Matt Whineray, NZ Super's acting chief executive, said in a separate news release, "we wish to explore whether a NZ Super Fund-led consortium leveraging our international relationships can fund and deliver the project, on a fully commercial basis."

New Zealand Super "considers the Auckland Light Rail network to be an infrastructure project of sufficient scale and significance to be an attractive prospect for investment," said Mr. Whineray.

The government news release, by Transport Minister Phil Twyford, said NZ$1.8 billion in seed funding had been earmarked for the 10-year transportation plan, which included the Auckland light rail projects.

Local news reports in New Zealand on Wednesday peg the total price for the light rail projects at NZ$6 billion. Danya Levy, senior press secretary for the transportation minister, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for NZ Super said her fund will partner with CDPQ Infra, the infrastructure arm of C$298.5 billion ($232.5 billion) Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec on the Auckland project. She declined to provide further details.

The NZ Super news release said other members could potentially be added to the consortium.

The government welcomed New Zealand Super's interest, while adding that it will review "all other proposals in the same way as the Super Fund's proposal is assessed."

New Zealand Super's latest report for the period ending March 31 showed the fund allocating 2% of its portfolio, or roughly NZ$760 million, to infrastructure, and 14.5%, or NZ$5.4 billion, to investments in New Zealand.

CDPQ Infra, meanwhile, would bring light rail experience to the consortium. The New Zealand Super news release said the unit "is responsible for developing, building and operating Montreal's 67-kilometer (41.6 miles) light rail network."

Caisse manages assets of Quebec's public provincial and municipal pension funds.