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The Standard

The Government must be crazy

Written By: - Date published: 7:15 am, March 1st, 2013 - 22 comments
Categories: assets, national, Privatisation - Tags:

Apparently National are considering 3 asset sales this year.  Mighty River in May / June, and perhaps 2 in November, as there are only 2 windows you can really make a sale in (due to rules around accounting numbers etc).

Can they really be serious about having 2 major sales at the same time?  How much spare “mum and dad” capital do they think is out there?  How do they expect to get a good price?

Selling all 3 electricity companies over the course of 6-12 months is going to mean that this sector is completely saturated.  The NZSX will be completely lopsided and unbalanced towards the utility sector.  All free capital for productive NZ companies will have been soaked up, meaning a lack of cash for our exporters and manufacturers to expand.

By the time they flog the last power co, shares in Mighty River (and those Contact ones remaining in NZ hands) will be heading to foreign hands at a rate of knots.

It’s a stupid idea to sell these assets for so many reasons, from lost revenue to lost sovereignty, higher power prices to higher current account deficit and taxes…

But if National are determined to do it, they could at least try and be a bit competent about the sales process.

22 comments on “The Government must be crazy”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Can they really be serious about having 2 major sales at the same time?

    When their only goal is to sell them off as fast as possible for as little as possible? Yes.

    • framu 1.1

      and the other goal to reduce the purchase price

    • prism 1.2

      Didn’t Richard Prebble say he would be prepared to give the railways away? Government two-legs bad, private ownership four-legs good!

  2. fatty 2

    There are plenty of mum and dad’s in China and USA. I’m sure they’re ready to take our candy from us babies

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    it’s like National is schizophrenically trying to lose the 2014 election when they could go all out and return for a third term. Weird behaviour driven by factional backers.

    • Tiresias 3.1

      Well, no. Given that the average voter has the political memory span of a goldfish the Nats will be able to use some of the $billions raised in the asset sales in 2013 to bedazzle them in 2014 with a couple of shiny news schools, a 5-star prison and half-a-cent off the basic rate of tax, and they’ll all go “Oooooh.”

      • Addison 3.1.1

        Of course,didn’t you realize that was the plan. A bit like working for families and free student loans.

      • Peter 3.1.2

        Agreed. If the average voter was really concerned about what is going on politically the Nats would be long gone already.

  4. odysseus 4

    So Ben, is Labour promising to renationalise the companies or regulate the market ? I think you are probably in favour of the latter but is that Labour policy ? And if it is, when is it to be trumpeted from the rooftops?

  5. johnm 5

    They’re up themselves arrogant antidemocratic crooks in other words rubbish! They know 80% of kiwis want those assets to stay in kiwi control. They’re aided and abbetted by the well orf smug sector of divided New Zealand who don’t give a flying f*ck for their poorer compatriots.

  6. Addison 6

    I thought reducing the value of these companies was a cunning Left plan to stop the sales. If not why all the threats to denationalize.

    • McFlock 6.1

      Nah. Renationalisation is the cunning plan of the “Left”. Heck, some reckon that it should be renationalisation without compensation, so lowering the sale value is pointless – but it’s only fair to give folk a heads up.

      What is perplexing is why devaluing would be part of a cunning plan of the tories. Gosh, it’s almost like they want them and their mates to be able to buy up as much of New Zealand’s essential infrastructure as possible.

      A conflict of class interest, if you will.

  7. There’s something that concerns me and that is how these power companies that are
    going to be ‘hocked off’ suddenly are making millions of dollars of profit,in a time
    when demand for power has gone down,
    Someone with more business knowledge than me might be able to shed some light
    on why.
    If the figures are being ‘made healthy’ to attract buyers of shares,surely there is
    something dodgy going on here.
    I am totally against selling off our tax-payer assets,in any shape manner or form.

    • tc 7.1

      Profit numbers are artificial at best in the power sector as it has a captive monopoly market, been dodgy since it devolved from NZED.

      Prices are controlled by themselves, they decide what to invest/spend on and they provision as they please with Audit being a tick box rather than a rigorous examination of ‘fair and accurate’.

      My guess is the hard word’s gone out to give up as much dividend as you can as the gov’t revenue base has been deliberately shrunk so it serves a dual purpose in making them look attractive.

      They’re attractive because they’re a monopoly and will always be profitable no matter what supply/demand is doing, that’s why they will be flogged regardless of any obstacle, it’s all part of the hollowman agenda.

      • Thanks for your explanation tc, There really needs to be tougher rules around taxpayer
        assets so that they aren’t pillaged and robbed by successive incomming governments,too
        late now though, they will be all gone in the blink of an eye soon.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      This may help explain.

    • Simple 7.3


      lets work through the issues:

      1. Power demand hasn’t gone down, we all need to live and work, so baseload consumption is predictably stable, where you have variability is weather (hydro in the SI), production output by large users (Tiwai Point, Glenbrook type plant). See stats http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/energy/energy-modelling/data/electricity – none show a reduction.

      2. Selling anything like a house or a car, presentation matters, how you looked after it with a car, did you maintain it affects resale. As with a house, how the town is perceived, local school etc all have an impact, so if you apply this logic to selling a SOE, you would think about in the post GFC environment, that a ‘stable asset’, with predicable returns, from diversified sources is going to do well, when compared to other assets choices.

      As an example your KiwiSaver fund manager needs to make choices right now (so that you can have a better retirement) do they invest in Sky TV with the risk of technology change, demand change (demographics), content risk etc, which could produce a higher but more volitile return, or do they have a more predicable investment return, with less volitility.

      3. It is hard to make things look healthy, suddenly. You want a trend, causality with investment, so financials over the last 5 years averaged are going to be given more weight than ‘window dressing’ and a coat of paint.

      Hope this helps, happy to reference these items if that helps.

  8. Rogue Trooper 8

    ssssshh! a tip from The Daily Planet;
    is it true that Shipley is on the board of Chinas’ state-owned bank China Construction, specializing in energy-sector development, or, is it false that Treasury / Goldman Sachs are running the ruler over Kiwibank for an alternate cash-injection… (Bruce)

  9. Ed 9

    The court said that there could be compensation to pay for excluding Maori from water management. Surely any government would look to provide that compensation from the electricity generation industry itself rather than finding cash elsewhere. One possibility could be increased charges for use of water for generation, imposed on all generators. Another issue is that any government will surely look to the electricity generation industry for ensuring that there is the ability to meet future demand for electricity. If any one or more company appeared to be not willing to share in such an aim it could be necessary to impose levies from which to fund such industry expansion. In either case that would effectively represent regulatory risk for any share float of an electricity generation company.

    Have any potential regulatory risks been identified in the prospectus for Mighty River? If we don,t know perhaps someone should help the government by pointing out the risks …

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