New Zealand Markets close in 4 hrs 53 mins

Govt scorned for nine per cent share offer

Opposition parties are heaping scorn and derision on the government for deciding to offer only nine per cent of Genesis shares to New Zealand "mum and dad" investors.

Ministers announced on Wednesday that 49 per cent of the state-owned power company's shares will be sold.

Institutional investors and New Zealand brokerages will be offered 40 per cent of the company, with the other nine per cent for individual New Zealand investors.

"The government has given up on the myth that it is selling shares in the electricity companies to `mum and dad' investors," said Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

"National is not even pretending that everyday Kiwis are going to buy these shares - the truth is the cost of living has outstripped wages and they don't have the spare cash to invest."

Dr Norman says only the wealthiest New Zealanders will profit from what's going to be a fire sale.

"This is government by the one per cent for the one per cent."

Labour leader David Cunliffe says institutions will make a killing while ordinary Kiwis lose out.

"When it promoted asset sales National said mum and dad investors would be at the front of the queue, instead the government has slammed the door on them," he said.

"This is the low point of the failed asset sales policy - even with the best price possible from Genesis they will fall short of their promised $5 billion to $7 billion total gain."

The government has already partially privatised Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy.

Genesis is the smallest and the last, and the government has said there won't be any more asset sales.