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Getting ahead of themselves?

Written By: - Date published: 7:37 am, August 29th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

If the Government still hasn’t decided whether to sell the assets, why is its stockbroker advertising them?

Could it be that the Nats’ consideration of the Tribunal’s findings is just a sham?

In related news, it turns out that Mighty River has so far spent $3.8m on preparing itself for sale. That brings the total spent to date to over $16m. And that’s before a single share has been sold! There’s $96m still in the budget to pay for the sales, plus big off-budget costs like the water rights case, the SOEs’ own costs, and the looters’ bonus. And don’t forget that, even once the sales are finished, the costs would keep mounting at over $100m a year.

42 comments on “Getting ahead of themselves?”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    Im not sure why a picture of two boys fishing is relevant to the Government shares. Maybe a picture of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon or driving the space vehicle around might have been more fitting.

    • Carol 1.1

      It is indeed a strange image to use.

      Are they putting the boys up for sale?

      Appealing to the nostalgia of investors for their youth (investors presumed to be male)?

      Appealing to Mum and Dad investors wanting to provide a carefree future for their sons?

      Thumbing their noses at Māori claims to water (and fishing?) rights?

      • Dr Terry 1.1.1

        Putting children up for sale just might suit this government – be careful about feeding them ideas!

    • Zetetic 1.2

      Pakeha boy and maori boy (make sure you get one whose skin isn’t too dark) harmoniously using the water to gain wealth together… Hardly a coincidence in that symbolism. In the TV ads, they discuss their dads’ shareholdings in various infrastructure companies that have already been privatised (mum is curiously absent, no girl fishing either)

      • Tracey 1.2.1

        No girls or mums? Why that’s simply reflective of the position women hold say, on Boards of NZ companies, or as CEO”s. For goodness sake, JAPAN has a higher representation of women on their corporate boards than NZ.

      • Lanthanide 1.2.2

        So they’re upper-crust wealthy types, eh?

    • weka 1.3

      They’re stealing the Green’s iconography from the last election. Because it works. Only unlike with the Greens, in this case there isn’t any real connection between the image and the content of the ad message.

  2. ad 2

    Can anyone give me the latest on the petition for a referendum? Numbers and timing?

  3. tc 3

    They’re being flogged regardless of what the economic/soverign/social or security of supply issues are. It’s in the hollowman script and it will be followed come hell or high water.

  4. Carol 4

    Meanwhile the power companies are stinging Kiwis with rising electricity prices, in order to increase the profits of the poer SOEs to make them more saleable.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/business/7559511/Genesis-set-to-increase-margins-on-power-sales

    Above-average price increases could be on the cards for Genesis Energy customers after New Zealand’s largest electricity retailer said increasing profits on its retail business was a key target for the year.

    Genesis, one of the companies expected to be partially sold by the Government if its asset sales programme goes ahead, has almost 550,000 electricity customers and 112,000 gas customers, more than any other company.

    Yesterday it reported a profit after tax of $90.3 million for the year to June 30, compared with a loss of $16.6m a year earlier.

    However, the improved financial performance stemmed from stronger sales to other electricity companies on the wholesale market, not from its own customer business, where profits fell slightly.

  5. Tracey 5

    …and the PM jokes about poverty. It’s looking more and more like the Greens are the only credible alternative to these self interested fools.

  6. aspasia 6

    Brent Sheather, investment writer in the Herald, picks apart all the arguments supporting the sales in “SOE sales–tell me why again?”
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10829989

    • Carol 6.1

      Excellent. And this bit, about the myth of private enterprises being more efficient than public ones, and that energy PPPs don’t result in increase in efficiencies.:

      Professor Hall sent me a paper entitled “Public Private Partnerships in the EU – a critical appraisal” where he looked at the performance of PPP’s in the EU. He investigated whether PPP’s “provide a way of financing or running private services which is better for the public and the services”. Professor Hall concluded that the private sector can’t borrow money more cheaply than the government and in fact the opposite is true.

      Furthermore he states that “the empirical evidence shows that the private sector is not more efficient than the public sector”. Professor Hall says that any PPP always starts with a handicap of a higher cost of capital which can only be offset by lower operating costs ie greater efficiency.

      Professor Hall also referred me to an analysis of UK privatisations entitled “The Great Divestiture” by an academic from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which meticulously examines all the companies privatised by the Thatcher Government and finds no evidence whatsoever of efficiency gains but clear evidence of regressive redistribution.

      Professor Hall said that “many other comparative studies echo this finding and these findings are especially relevant for capital intensive services like electricity”. Hmmmm – not quite what we are being told is it. Recall also that a study by our own New Zealand Treasury found that there was “little evidence of systemic underperformance” in our SOE’s.

    • mike 6.2

      Excellent article. Concise, damning, and evidence based. NAct defenders conspicuously absent from the comments.

      “Let’s have a look of some of the conclusions reached by Professor Florio in “The Great Divestiture”. One of the most striking conclusions is that the privatisations in the UK resulted in “clear evidence of regressive redistribution”. This means taking money from the poorer sections of society and giving it to the wealthy.

      This conclusion particularly resonates at present given the recent revelations about the systemic bad behaviour in the banking sector globally and the fact that wages in the finance sector have grown much faster than wages in the broader economy.

      The other important conclusions in Professor Florio’s book are that the assets sold were underpriced, there was a large rise in management salaries and most important of all privatisation made little difference to long term trends in productivity and prices. No wonder all the chief executives of the SOE’s to be sold are enthusiastic about the idea – they stand to benefit from high salaries and no doubt huge bonuses via employee share purchase plans.”

      (Emphasis mine.)

      As for the image in the ad, I agree with weka, they’ve hijacked the Green’s election imagery. What’s the message exactly? Think of the children? If you don’t buy the shares some nasty private company will get them cheap and the next generation will suffer? Oh no! But wait a minute, we could just not sell the assets.

    • DH 6.3

      That’s a good article by Sheather, I expect he’s been removed from a few invitation lists lately it’s quite unusual for someone with a vested interest to be so refreshingly honest.

      He’s right on the money. It’s just not good business and you have to ask why the party of business is doing what no astute business person would ever do. The only conclusion I can reach that makes sense to me is they’ve got their hands in the till.

  7. prism 7

    Is that one of the NACT’s kids reeling in the last trout in the country?

  8. Tracey 8

    Shouldn’t they have jobs, like paper runs and stuff rather than being lazy and sitting around all day????

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Bomber over on Tumeke reckons that NACT will still sell them as it’s his and NACTs main purpose for being in government and to keep on side of the main backers of NACT.

  10. Steve Wrathall 10

    “Could it be that the Nats’ consideration of the Tribunal’s findings is just a sham?”
    Hope so, as they have a mandate and I don’t recall voting for the waitangi tribunal to ru(i)n the country.

    • fnjckg 10.1

      (s)woteva

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      They got less than 50% of the vote thus do not have a mandate.

      • TheContrarian 10.2.1

        Which, by your logic, means no government has ever had a mandate, for at least the last 20 years if not more.  

        National have a mandate to govern through winning the election and becoming a minority coalition government. Whether or not the have a mandate for assets sales is debatable (and has been debated ad infintum).

      • TheContrarian 10.2.2

        Here’s one for ya…

        Labour got less than 50% of the vote thus had no mandate to introduce Working for Families.

         

        • McFlock 10.2.2.1

          Only labour MPs voted for WFF? Fascinating.
               
          As a % of the general election vote, how popular were the parties supporting WFF in ’04 vs the parties who voted for asset sales this year? 

          • TheContrarian 10.2.2.1.1

            Well, if national has no mandate with under 50% of the vote then it stands to reason that labour didn’t have mandate either.

            • McFlock 10.2.2.1.1.1

              If “they” referred to “National and not the other parties that voted for asset sales”, you’d be right.
                       
              But did the parties that voted for asset sales represent more than 50% of the vote? How did they go, electoral support-wise, compared to the parties that voted for WFF, seeing as you started the comparison?
               

  11. tracey 11

    The tribunal has quasi judicial auhtority. Your vote didnt give a mandate for a govt to place itself above the law. I kmow this will irk you.

  12. These advertisements have been published, in print, since at least June. Broadcasting them on TV is just the next phase in the plan, which does not include taking any notice of the Waitangi Tribunal.

  13. Karl Sinclair 13

    Craigs:
    You will be measured, you will be weighed… you will be be judged and what should follow from this………………………………………………………Neil

  14. Karl Sinclair 14

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10811358

    Craigs Investment Partners more than doubled its profit last year as the brokerage half owned by Deutsche Bank benefited from KiwiSaver inflows and reaped fees from equity and debt capital raisings.

    Profit rose to $5.3 million in calendar 2011, from $2.3 million a year earlier, according to the annual report, lodged with the Companies Office. Revenue rose 11 per cent to $75 million.

    “In a very difficult market overall we had a good year,” chairman Neil Craig told BusinessDesk. Craigs has more than $6 billion under management in KiwiSaver and other funds, which made “an on-going contribution last year.”

    Among mandates Craigs won in 2011 were joint lead manager and underwriter for Contact Energy’s $351 million rights issue, joint lead manager for Summerset Group’s $123.6 million initial public offering and co-lead manager of Trade Me’s $363.5 million IPO. It was also arranger and lead manager for state-owned Genesis Energy’s $275 million bond sale.

    Craig said there has been “a reasonably tough start to the year” in 2012.

    “ECM (equity capital markets) at this point is not there and we’re very much looking forward to the government programme (of asset sales) and Fonterra coming to the market.”

    The 2011 results show the firm got its biggest revenue gains from commissions, which jumped 41 per cent to $10.9 million. Fees rose 8.5 per cent to $38.8 million and brokerage rose 5.6 per cent to $25 million.

    “All parts of our business had some growth,” Craig said. For retail and wholesale stock broking, though, growth was “at the margin.”

    Operating expenses rose 5.3 per cent to $68.2 million. Benefits for employees, who own most of the other half of the firm, rose about 11 per cent to $45.4 million.

    Neil Craig started the Craigs side of the business as Craig & Co in 1984. ABN Amro bought 50 per cent in 2001 of what became ABN AMRO Craigs and that holding transferred to a group of Fortis, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander that acquired the Netherlands-based firm.

    Two years later ABN AMRO Craigs bought back the half-stake, renaming the firm Craigs Investment Partners. In 2010, Deutsche Bank took a 49.9 per cent holding.

    – BusinessDesk

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