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New Zealand announces energy company sale

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand is closing the books on a contentious, multibillion dollar program of asset sales.

The government announced on Friday it would sell a minority stake in power company Genesis Energy for 736 million New Zealand dollars ($638 million). The company will list on the New Zealand stock market on April 17.

Including Genesis, New Zealand has sold 49 percent stakes in three power companies and a 20 percent stake in Air New Zealand over the past year, raising a total NZ$4.7 billion ($4.1 billion).

The government says the money has helped pay for schools and hospitals and reduced debt. Opponents say it's ideologically driven and unnecessary.

More than two-thirds of people who voted in a referendum last year said they opposed the sales.