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Superfund shows interest in investing domestically

03 Nov, 2021

The Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) made an offer to purchase Government’s stake in Vodafone Cook Islands Limited in a bid to invest domestically.

The proposal to purchase Cook Islands Government’s shares in the local telecommunication company was made earlier this year.

But yesterday David Brown, the superannuation’s chief investment officer, said the proposed investment in Vodafone Cook Islands “is not something the fund is looking at now”.

The Cook Islands Government owns 40 per cent of Telecom Cook Islands Limited, which trades as Vodafone Cook Islands.

In a submission to Competition and Regulatory Authority in May this year on the proposals regarding the Universal Access Plan and Second Mobile Operator Licence, CINSF said it “recently made an offer to purchase the Cook Islands Government’s stake in Vodafone Cook Islands Ltd”.

Brown yesterday confirmed the fund looked at the shares a while ago.

“It (the negotiations) might always come back but the negotiations were a very long time ago, seven months ago, and it’s not currently to our knowledge something that we are spending a lot of time on,” Brown said.

The legislation governing the National Superannuation Fund allows for up to 20 per cent of investments to be held in the Cook Islands. The superannuation has never invested domestically – all the money is invested offshore.

Brown said the fund was interested in making investments that supported long term retirement returns regardless if they were made domestically or offshore.

Government spokesperson Jaewynn McKay yesterday confirmed no shares of Telecom Cook Islands Limited have been sold.

Cook Islands News asked if the Government was entertaining the idea of selling its shares in Telecom Cook Islands Limited.

McKay replied: “The Government requires Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) to continuously review its operations, structures and ownerships of shares, to ensure CIIC Group (its operations, structure and ownership models), is fit for purpose now and into the future.”

Vodafone Cook Islands chief executive officer Phillip Henderson said if shareholders in the company did change, any comment on operational changes would be pure speculation at this stage.

“Since 2015, the shareholding of Telecom Cook Islands has gone through two changes in the majority Shareholder and operational impacts have been minimal but positive,” Henderson said.

The net asset value of Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund surpassed $200 million mark earlier this year.