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Gov't confirms its intentions N

The Government has outlined its intentions for the future of the Public Trust Office.

Wednesday, December 16th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

The Government has confirmed that the Public Trust Office (PTO) would be corporatised after ownership issues are settled and then considered for sale.
Recently Macquarie Bank prepared a report on the PTO's functions and future ownership.
They recommended the office should be changed from a government department to a state-owned enterprise trustee company, enabling it to '"further foster the commercial culture it needs to compete more effectively in the trustee services market and better meet customer requirements".

They say there does not appear to be any public policy rationale for the Crown to continue owning a commercialised PTO, therefore selling the asset was an option.
Any public policy functions the office does could be either transferred to other government departments or put out to the market through a competitive tender process.
No changes to the office will be made until ownership issues are sorted out. The High Court earlier this year determined the Government was the owner of the business, however that ruling is being appealed by the lawyer appointed to represent the interests of PTO beneficiaries.
That appeal is expected to be heard in February.
The consultants say there is significant demand for a trade sale, and that the office was not suitable for a public float.
Public Trustee David Hutton welcomed the Government’s announcement, saying that the initiative will have certain commercial benefits for Public Trust and its customers.
"Public Trust is a business that operates under legislation which no longer suits the needs of a modern trustee organisation," he says. "If we are to continue to meet our customer needs in the future, then we must improve our commercial and competitive flexibility," he says.
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