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The Standard

Asset sale disaster

Written By: - Date published: 7:45 am, December 5th, 2013 - 30 comments
Categories: ACC, Privatisation - Tags:

So the government are predictably having to lower their estimates of what asset sales will raise them.

They’ve done a terribly incompetent job implementing a stupid policy.  And unfortunately that terrible job has made the stupid policy even worse.

When they promised us $10 billion for our assets back in early 2011 they were already receiving warnings that they were running Solid Energy into the ground.  But they fully expected to sell half of it for a great sum.

When they began a policy that was against 2/3 to 3/4 of the public’s wishes, as well as against all the opposition parties, leaving them to ram through major changes on a bare majority in parliament… it was somehow a shock that said opposition parties didn’t roll over and came up with alternate policy, as is indeed their job.

They then went screaming “nationalisation! nationalisation!” misrepresenting that opposition policy, and are now blaming Labour/Greens and “unsophisticated investors” (ie their mythical mum and dad voter-investors) for running scared of a threat of … nationalisation.

Their crown jewel Meridian’s problems with Rio Tinto were visible a mile off, but somehow still struck them by surprise, and they claim you surely can’t blame them…

Now I really don’t agree with selling our power companies off.  For multiple reasons – security of energy supply and selling a profit giving asset to pay off a lower rate interest than the power-companies’ dividends chief amongst them.

But if you’re going to put your ideological blinkers on and do it, at least do it right.

The Government didn’t do as badly with getting a reasonable amount of money with Mighty River Power, in the teeth of Labour/Greens new policy.  Not good, but nothing like the disaster that was Meridian.

It’s National’s fault for not anticipating Rio Tinto and especially their fault for trying to sell too much of the same too quick.

When you’ve just sold a major energy company, massively rebalancing the stockmarket and investors portfolios, the next thing they aren’t going to want is… another energy company.

So despite the interest-free loan sweetners etc they got about half the valuation of their biggest asset.  It went for a song.

Now next up is Genesis.  To sell this next year would be insane.  If investors didn’t want Meridian, they’re going to want Genesis even less.

Sell it, and they’ll get a pittance.

Currently they’re claiming they’ll raise maybe just over $4.5 billion from asset sales including Genesis.  Their borrowing (remember Labour’s surpluses?) is down from $260 million / week to $110 million / week currently.  That means they burn through our cash producing assets in less than 10 months.  This isn’t setting us up for future infrastructure, this is burning through your major assets for petty cash.

That’s before they fail to receive as much as they expect from Genesis.

How tied are they to their ideological blinkers to blind them from seeing their next failure?

I guess we’ll find out next year.

In the meantime, we need 1,000,000 no votes in the referendum to send a message to Key – so make sure you’ve voted – and your friends and family.

30 comments on “Asset sale disaster”

  1. lanthanide 1

    Meridian and MRP at record low prices yesterday. 92.5c for Meridian and $1.99 for MRP. Analysis is that their prices drop when Labour looks more like it will win the next election.

    Act’s destruction is judged bad for National by the market…

  2. phil 2

    Good time for the Government to buy them back, eh?
    Just posted my Referendum Voting paper. It’s a complete waste of $ 9 million. It could have gone on the next Americas Cup campaign! It is clear now, that dimocracy is way too expensive, unaffordable and not working. If it’s not working, change it.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      Buy? Nope. Receivers of stolen property don’t get their money back.

      Now, I’m not saying this situation is entirely analogous with receiving, but there is a further consideration: what better way to Tory-proof New Zealand strategic assets than by punitive reacquisition policy?

      The SOE model has failed. Neo-liberalism has failed, but until it hurts them in their wallets, the National Party’s owners will not resile from these policies.

      • Judge Holden 2.1.1

        No, what happened was that the Nats bilked everyone, including the Mum and Dad investors it conned into buying over-priced shares. That they said the companies were worth even more than the inflated price they sold them for amply demonstrates English’s massive incompetence. The programme has been a disaster on every possible measure.

        • jcuknz

          Originally I considered it a donation to help the government with some possible return.
          But when it came to the crunch I had other uses for the money.

  3. appleboy 3

    Heard English saying the most stupid thing yesterday. He said Labour ‘couldn’t have it both ways’, by saying National should not have sold the assets , and then complaining about what price when sold.

    Duh. We don’t agree with the sale AND we think you got a lousy price when you did sell them.

    These two ideas are entirely compatible!

    Media and Labour need to call the lying dick out.

    What a tosser, I guess that was a soundbite for the greedy/unthinking out there.

    • Disraeli Gladstone 3.1

      I think there’s probably a more subtle point than what English were trying to make. Which is that if the government sold too highly, then Mum and Dad investors couldn’t buy into it and it would all go to speculators. Which is why they had to sell lower.

      But Mr Clark here is absolutely bang on with: “and especially their fault for trying to sell too much of the same too quick.

      When you’ve just sold a major energy company, massively rebalancing the stockmarket and investors portfolios, the next thing they aren’t going to want is… another energy company.”

      That was the stupidity of the whole policy.

      • Naturesong 3.1.1

        Treasury did warn them.
        $2B per year is what they estimated the market could absorb iirc.

  4. Ad 4

    +100 Mr Clark

  5. Tat Loo (CV) 5

    Institutional investors got our best assets for cheap? Sounds to me like success for Keys mates. No fail there.

  6. Tracey 6

    I agree with tat loo. Especially on mrp which spiked up day one. Alot of keys former colleagues bought big and sold quick and pocketted the profit. Selling many power companies back to back contradicts so much of what mr key learned as a trader to maximise price for seller.

  7. jcuknz 7

    But for the sabotage on the part of Labour/Greens …….That is what I will remember about the event.
    I suppose I should be greatful to them in view of the current share price for putting this DAD off getting some.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.1

      Diddums, the nasty opposition parties came up with some policies that don’t suit you. It’s the risk you take, and after all, there are far worse things in life than losing a little bit of your money, Daddy.

    • framu 7.2

      oh bullshit

      asset sales are unpopular and its a political issue first and foremost – if you thought it was ONLY a financial deal – your an idiot

      if you were thinking about buying shares in the asset sales – and you DIDNT recognise that its a highly polarising political issue and you DIDNT ask your self what might happen when the govt changed – your an idiot

      if your going to claim that the only thing that affected the share price and overall result was the opposition announcing their policy intention BEFORE the shares went on sale – your an idiot

      The nats are in govt – not the opposition – i didnt realise that the opposition had so much power over the govt – those nats must have been quaking in their boots when that nasty labour party put a gun to their head and said “sell”

    • ropata 7.3

      yes it is all Labour’s fault that National was *forced* to piss away half the country’s finest assets :rollseyes:

  8. Will@Welly 8

    Key was working as a money man when the privatisation process began, so he knows how much money the speculators can make. Bill English was working in Treasury at the same time, he knows what sort of money that they too can make. Key knew he only gets one chance to sell these assets, keeping his buddies happy. He’s not interested in New Zealand, only what he can get out of it.

  9. Richard Christie 9

    Quite right, it isn’t nationisation, it is restoration or reclamation.
    The Labour/Green paries should stop being terrified of the term nationalisation, call it what it truly is and proudly adopt the policy.

  10. Matthew 10

    Taxpayers should be delighted at the foresight of Key and English to sell 49% of these Assets while they still had some value.

    The taxpayer has made some very good coin on these while the supposedly rich investor has lost out.

    It’s the best scheme to fix inequality anyone has ever come up with!

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      No, because the crown is losing the dividend stream that is the golden goose from these companies.

      The Greens have already done the maths that shows the government is $1b worse off by 2017, even after the proceeds of the sale is taken into account.

      Better luck next spin.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    How tied are they to their ideological blinkers to blind them from seeing their next failure?

    But it won’t be a failure to them. They would have sold it to the “worthy” so that those worthy can have a parasitical income on the backs of the impoverished and they’ll see that as a success.

    This National government are acting exactly as the old aristocracy and the let them eat cake attitude to the poor.

  12. Roy 12

    Have you perused the comments on that Stuff article? So much whining from idiot Nat supporters that it is all the fault of Labour and the Greens for ‘sabotaging’ the process. The stupidity of those people makes my head hurt.

    • infused 12.1

      Good to see so many people can see through Labours bullshit.

      • Paul 12.1.1


      • framu 12.1.2

        asset sales are unpopular and its a political issue first and foremost – if you thought it was ONLY a financial deal – your an idiot

        if you were thinking about buying shares in the asset sales – and you DIDNT recognise that its a highly polarising political issue and you DIDNT ask your self what might happen when the govt changed – your an idiot

        if your going to claim that the only thing that affected the share price and overall result was the opposition announcing their policy intention BEFORE the shares went on sale – your an idiot

        The nats are in govt – not the opposition – i didnt realise that the opposition had so much power over the govt – those nats must have been quaking in their boots when that nasty labour party put a gun to their head and said “sell”

        so whats this bullshit you complain off? – all i see is a bunch of whiners to stupid to notice that investing in a politically driven sale will have political results

  13. jcuknz 13

    Paul and Rodel say it briefly and well :)

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