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Government in trouble over Meridian Float

Written By: - Date published: 8:33 pm, October 23rd, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: bill english, john key, Privatisation, same old national - Tags:


The results of the Meridian share float have been announced and they pose a whole lot of problems for the Government.

Meridian is a company which was valued at $6 billion in 2011.  The sale of 49% of its shares at $1.50, at the low end of estimates, gives the company a market value of $3.84 billion.

The Government thought that it would have 250,000 mum and dad investors in each of the planned floats.  Mighty River Power had 116,000 and Meridian is down to 62,000.

And 13% of its shares will be owned by overseas interests, not Kiwi mum and dad investors.  And they will be financed into the transaction.

As a sign of how bad things are Bill English was sent out to make the announcement.  John Key was no where to be seen.

If you ever needed to be persuaded that selling what are long term strategically vital assets for peanuts is a bad idea then this should provide it.


Thanks Pascal’s bookie for this comment from local mike:

“Cosgrove’s statement here:


“I don’t know how John Key and Bill English can look the taxpayers of New Zealand in the face. They have they sold half of a valuable long term asset for $1.2 billion less than they told the public they would sell it for in 2011. And just 62,000 retail investors, including institutions, bought shares.

“John Key and Bill English threw everything they could at making this sale a success, even offering a Suzanne Paul-style buy now – pay later scheme. Despite offering everything but a free set of steak knives just 62,000 people wanted to buy in.

“The number of investors in Meridian is half that of Mighty River, which was half that of Contact Energy when the National Government sold it in 1999. At this rate of success they will be paying people to buy Genesis Energy shares.

Greens here:


Only 62,000 retail shareholders have bought shares in Meridian Energy. That compares to 113,000 who bought shares in Mighty River Power and an expected take-up of 250,000 buyers per sale when the asset sales were being planned. 62,000 equates to just 1.4% of the New Zealand population.

Buyers will reap the benefit of paying only $1 per share up front and the remaining 50 cents in 18 months’ time – the total cost to the Crown of these interest free loans will be $50 million. Overseas investors bought 28% of the shares sold (13.5% of the company), meaning the New Zealand taxpayer is paying $14 million to incentivise foreign institutions to buy our electricity company.

“The Meridian flop confirms that National’s asset sales are a failure and a huge waste money,” said Dr Norman.

“Only 1% of Kiwis bought shares in Meridian. The other 99% of us have lost the profits from a strategic asset and can now look forward to higher power prices.

“The Meridian sale cost around $90 million. We know the ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme alone will set taxpayers back $50 million while the fees for brokers, lawyers, and ad-men will add around $40 million to the bill. That’s on top of the $173 million that National’s asset sales have already cost the taxpayer.

“Mr Key has just cost the New Zealand taxpayer $14 million to subsidise overseas buyers as they swoop in to take a chunk of Meridian and its profits.”

34 comments on “Government in trouble over Meridian Float”

  1. Bunji 1

    In 2011 they said that the sales would raise as much as $10 billion – now they’re not going to get anywhere near half that.

    Even if you agreed with the principle of selling off important strategic assets; even if the fact that they have a higher rate of return that the govt cost of borrowing didn’t turn your head; the sheer incompetence of giving away these assets for so little to so few people – the 1.4% – should surely make you wonder about this government’s desperation to sell when they can’t get a decent price.

    • Bunji 1.1

      This is a MAJOR hole in National’s books. They’re relying on this to be the bulk of their “$5-$7 billion” guesstimate that they’re running our economy on.
      So Mighty River $1.7 billion, Meridian $1.88 billion, they can get $300 million for Air NZ if they don’t release the shares all in one go and flood the market (although given their current form…), plus what for Genesis? $600 million topside? But the number of investors available is diminishing, and the appetite for energy companies further ruining the balance of your share portfolio is diminishing…

      There’s no chance they’re going to get more than $4.5 billion total out of these sales.

      We’ve been ripped off as owners of these assets. We didn’t want to sell, and our agents have got us an horrendous price.

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        Yep the next question is could the Government cancel the float after seeing the offers (which I am sure they could do) and if so then why didn’t they do it?

        They are selling strategically vital assets for peanuts.

        • Draco T Bastard

          They’re selling them on ideology (their belief that rich people should own everything as was true under feudalism) and because of that there’s no way that they would stop the sales.

          • thatguynz

            Or is it more that those that they truly represent told them to?

            • Tigger

              They have to sell them. This has been Key’s plan ever since those Hollow Man days when he was installed to turn National into NACTional.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    There was an apparently baseless story on stuff a few days ago saying that the offer was likely to be oversubscribed and allocations would be scaled back from what was requested. A few days before that there was a story about how the price would be towards the upper end of the $1.50-1.80 range.

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    Norman’s final zinger in that release is a pretty funny:

    “It’s hard to do a belly flop while simultaneously giving 99% of New Zealanders the fingers, but John Key has shown that it is possible”

    And Key can’t really take a shot back coz his MOM sux and he’ll look like a fool. Just has to take it.

  4. appleboy 4

    What a bunch of crooks. This is a total failure and should be screamed out loud by Labour and the Greens at every opportunity until the next election where kiwis hopefully will have seen this bunch of wankers for the lying thieving scum they are, and vote them out.

    • Anne 4.1

      There’s one word to sum it up from start to finish, and from the top of the political tree to the bottom – 3 times for impact:


      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        That and control because once all the commons is sold off to the rich everyone else will have to do what they say.

  5. newsense 5

    What does Key care?

    He’s about done his dash surely, sent most of the things that he was able to tits up, transferred as much wealth and privilege as possible and now, especially if the polls get much worse, is about to swan off to Hawaii before some diplomatic post in Hollywood leaving the rest of the Nats to the fighting and the mess behind him…

    • Mike S 5.1

      Yep, and I’m sure his ‘blind’ trust will have snapped up plenty of shares, I can picture him sitting in a corner snorting and sniveling and rubbing his hands in glee..

  6. bad12 6

    A convenient announcement from National on a Wednesday night knowing that Slippery the Prime Minister wont be in the House tomorrow to answer any questions,

    Are these people really attached to planet earth by anything other than an over-supply of weighty excrement which stops them all floating off someplace else,

    Trying to micro-manage this FLOP of a sale of what we all already own as far as the bad news goes for National is going to look something like lighting a match in an Australian bushfire, probably not what would be seen as the brightest of ideas but will anyone notice as the fucking lot of them are incinerated by the roaring public wrath that will be the inevitable consequences of what is in essence the final dance at the ball of the village idiots,

    If anyone doubted it, think again, this will finish National and as the roaring for blood escalates watch those bastards tear each other apart like a pack of rabid dogs….

  7. Colonial Viper 7

    We’re selling valuable strategic energy assets in exchange for currency which is generated out of thin air by the billions via a few computer key strokes.

    Have a think about how wrong that is.

  8. Steve 8

    This is a cock up of epic proportions and I wonder how many Meridian prospectuses they printed? No doubt there will be an OIA request being filed on that one.
    I really don’t think Key could bear the thought of making a concession speech at the next election. If the polls continue to show National’s slide I expect him to cut loose early next year pushing aside women and children as he scrambles for the exit.

  9. Lionel 9

    Key is corrupt he will bail for sure don’t put it past the piece of s#*# to try and organise a knighthood for himself watched him in the house today as Meterei Turei tried to nail him down would’nt answer questions and resorted to smart arse answers which included a insincere retraction and apology asked from by the speaker who was reluctant to stick that on him
    he’s hardly partial is David Carter

  10. ScottGN 10

    Bill English is blaming the low interest and low price for the the shares on the Labour and Green power policy. So he’s basically saying that investors were scared off because they have factored in a likely change of government next year? Great news Bill!

  11. phil 11

    The good news is that there has been a huge transfer of wealth here, speeding up the downfall of a desperate and traitorous government. If Labour, in Govt, had the smarts they should freeze the price and renationalize the electricity sector. Where is Max Bradford, and his tory mates began this festering mess. How do you put Humpty Dumpty back together again? You hatch a new egg.

  12. Tracey 12

    Where are all the folks lauding mr keys trading skills and nouse?

  13. Ant 13

    So what’s going to give now so Key/English can make their feel good election year surplus? Interest free student loans?

  14. Crunchtime 14

    Those numbers are especially damning… There’s been a lot of talk of the 1% who control most of the resources of the world. Here in NZ we have the 1% who own shares in our power company. The other 99% are less than impressed.

  15. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 15

    Compare the numbers in this article to the approx 51% of voters (or by my rough calculations: 1, 139,901 people) who voted for parties that opposed asset sales and one can see another good reason for politicians to listen to what the electorate tells them.


    What an incompetent government we have.

  16. Steve Bradley 16

    Steven Joyce is describing members of Parliament who oppose the government’s policy on asset sales as ‘communists’ and their actions as ‘sabotage’. This is extreme language – trying to demonise another group of loyal dissidents. I feel sorry for S. Joyce and I am worried about his physical health: up close he doesn’t look well, distinctly seedy even. Perhaps he needs an extended vacation.

    Now, the extremity of his language raises concerns about his mental health. ‘Sabotage’ is a capital crime and once was punished by hanging, or at least 14 years transportation to Sydney Town. This is a serious allegation to make – trying a cunning twist to turn a policy dispute into a crime against the State. We’ve heard all this before in the Twentieth Century from leaders with no sense of democratic accountability.

    The National government is quite happy to loot the patrimony of Aotearoa but extremely reluctant to use the power of the state to help the struggling residents of this state.

    Labour’s promises to workers about the minimum and living wages is chundered on by Joyce saying on TV, “you can’t raise wages by fiat.” Of course you can. You just need a simple majority in Parliament. Roll on the General Election.

    • Tat Loo 16.1

      Labour’s promises to workers about the minimum and living wages is chundered on by Joyce saying on TV, “you can’t raise wages by fiat.” Of course you can. You just need a simple majority in Parliament.

      Apparently the Remuneration Authority is going to raise the wages of Parliamentarians by fiat.

      Joyce doesn’t seem to have any problem with that, though.

  17. tricledrown 17

    Phil the new egg could be just building a few more wind farms to put downward pressure on clean energy .
    Cheaper than buying back.

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