An offshore party is doing due diligence on KJet, but managing director Shaun Kelly — who bought into the company 35 years ago — stressed the deal might not go through.
Mr Kelly — a 50:50 owner with Skeggs Group, which owns tourism giant Southern Discoveries — said “it’s not a fire sale because of Covid”.
“Business is really healthy, and we’ve fared well right through this last couple of years.”
Annual passenger numbers had dropped about two-thirds, from 70,000-80,000 in pre-Covid times, but the company had retained its 21-strong staff, including seven drivers.
However, he had had “a bit of a health scare”, and received a kidney transplant last Christmas, Mr Kelly said.
“I’ve sort of had to back off a bit, really,” Mr Kelly said.
The company was not for sale, but had been approached by several parties — “we’re testing the water”.
Billed as the world’s oldest commercial jet-boat company, KJet — originally Kawarau Jet Services — traces its history to 1958.
Since Mr Kelly bought in, the company had grown from one jet-boat to a fleet of eight, “the biggest in New Zealand”, its website states.
Skeggs Group bought its stake in 2011.
Mr Kelly (61) is a former New Zealand jet-boat racing champ and placed fifth in the world jet-boat marathon in the United States in 2000.
– Philip Chandler