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Imagine if National had not sold the shares in our companies 2015 version

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, August 30th, 2015 - 54 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, national, national/act government, Privatisation, same old national - Tags:


About 12 months ago I wrote this post on the loss of dividends that would otherwise have been paid to the Crown because of National’s privatisation activity.  I calculated the country had lost $360.7 million in dividends although there had been a saving in interest.  And the country had also missed out on $485 million in the increase of the value of the shares.

I did another back of the envelope calculation today based on the latest company announcements.  I am afraid that things are way worse.  It looks like we lost $471 million in dividends not to mention further capital gains in the value of the shares we sold.

My calculations may be wrong.  Back of the envelope calculations while watching Auckland v Canterbury even using Excel are not optimal.  And I have not tried to understand any changes in capital structure and what consequences they may have had.  But I think that the New Zealand nation has been royally rogered by the sale of the power company and Air New Zealand shares.

I repeated the calculations and the figures this year are worse.  Far worse …

The results are:

  • Meridian paid a total dividend of 18.23c a share compared to last year’s result of 13.01c per share.  If the shares had not been sold the dividends that would be paid to the Government would total $229 million this year not to mention $163.4 million last year.
  • Mighty River Power’s profit went down but it still paid a dividend of 19c a share.  Dividend loss to us, $128 million and last year $91.2 million.
  • Genesis Energy increased its dividend payout to 16c per share compared to last year’s payout of 13c per share.  Dividend loss to us last year was $61.9 million and this year is $78 million.
  • Air New Zealand had a bumper year and announced a total dividend of 16c per share.  The value of the shares National sold increased by $186 million and the dividend loss this year was $35 million.

My quick calculation is that since their sale the shares the Government sold have increased in value by $1.378 billion.  Over the past two years we have lost that in capital increase and $831.7 million in dividends.  We did receive $4.7 billion in sale proceeds although this is before the cost of selling the shares.

Overall in two years we have gained $4.7 billion less expenses but we have lost $1.4 billion in capital gains and $831.7 million in dividends.  That is $2.23 billion or nearly half of the sale amount.  And we were paying less than 5% interest on the debt the Crown claims to have retired.

To put it in perspective the amount lost in dividends alone could have paid for 17 flag referendums or built a sheep farm in a Saudi desert and bribed an influential member of Saudi society 41 times.

Each year barring some major change the comparison will get worse and worse.  If our leaders are the financial geniuses they profess to be they would have kept the shares.

54 comments on “Imagine if National had not sold the shares in our companies 2015 version”

  1. save NZ 1

    The Natz are the worst financial managers ever! You couldn’t pay someone to be that bad – or maybe somebody has.

    The MSM should be caned in particular the herald for their electioneering and championing of such a financial debacle from the Natz.

    Like Natz coalition partners – the MSM propping up the Natz are losing market share too – you have to wonder what the pay off is.

  2. les 2

    to be fair selective hindsight like this proves little.It is small change compared to the gains the Cullen Fund would have made if it’s investment capital had not been trimmed by this govt.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Labour should have moved ownership of the SoEs into the Cullen Fund, to ensure the continued dividend stream would stay in NZ and prevent these vital assets from being sold overseas.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        No. Labour should have set it up so that state assets couldn’t be sold.

        • Lanthanide

          Putting them into the Cullen Fund would have effectively done that. Anyone that tried to sell them would be over-riding the administration of the Cullen Fund, and come under attack for destroying the future of the pension system. Pretty good ‘third rail’ defence, there.

  3. Well lets hope some of those dividends went to Kiwi Savers …. yeah right )

  4. joe90 4

    Apologies to Matt Taibbi –

    It’s a great vampire squid the Nactional Party wrapped around the face of humanity the Nation , relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Over the past two years we have lost that in capital increase and $831.7 million in dividends.

    Your back of the envelope calculations are slightly out: $871m in lost dividends. The cumulative loss of all dividends over the last few decades would massively over shadow any savings made but, hey, the rich got richer so it’s all good right?

    We always knew that selling off state assets would be bad for us. We knew it back in the 1980s as well but the governments of the last 30 years have been ruling for the rich and against the country.

  6. Red delusion 6

    Last time I looked the power companies are still there, all that has changed is who has residual claims to its profits and who takes the risk. It’s still paying salaries , generating power and economic activity, paying corporate and investor tax, including on capital gain, ( not available under the old model). The government still has the 4 billion. Beyond selective and simplistic back of a fag packet and short term analysis of above the aguement over privitisation vs government owned is pretty much settled empirically, by force of competition and of logic

    • mickysavage 6.1

      You are not very good at trolling are you. The “residual claims to its profits” in reality is a huge transfer of wealth to private interests. The Government still has the $4 billion but has lost over half of it already.

      How about you address the figures and say if they are wrong.

      • Reddelusion 6.1.1

        I don’t need to address figures, let say they are right. Still does not change my arguement. Your analysis is based on one year, so if the power companies loose money next year and there is is a capital loss, what then. The argument is really over privatisation vs government ownership. If the government had manage to sell solid energy for 3b 3 years ago, would you be championing the great wisdom of this sale based on your logic

        Why am I trolling if i don’t agree with you. The debate who should own a corporate, be it government, workers, capital, disperse or concentrated ownership, families etc is a reasonable debate and not trolling

        • dukeofurl

          The power companies arent high risk ventures that struggle and could lose the lot.
          Ask Warren Buffett about the merits of low risk well managed investments that are kept for the very long term. Public ownership can and does make sense, especially when we built it in the first place.
          When you see the absurd giveaway the power shares became, it was almost buy one get one free. It wasnt the actions of a prudent owner.

          • BM

            Labour did do its best at sabotaging the process, cost the country billions but hey who cares about that.

            • Draco T Bastard

              No, Labour tried to save the country billions. It was National and you RWNJs that has cost us billions by selling our assets against our wishes.

        • Ad

          Mickey Savage’s argument is about opportunity cost and Cabinet governance failure.

          As for your note about Solid Energy, all that shows is that this government cannot run a business because:

          – either they under-govern it and fail to act so it fails, as in Solid Energy,

          – or fail to step back from governing a good business through a commodity cycle as in Landcorp or Air New Zealand knowing that the huge upside is coming if the management is competent

          – or fail to keep full control of electricity utilities who hold the biggest license to print money since the invention of the Reserve Bank.

          Net result is loss of billions of dollars that could have been used on good public services, which benefit all of society, not the tiny few shareholders.

          On all three counts, this government taken taken my taxpayer dollars and burnt them, because they do not have the skill to run a business.

          • Draco T Bastard

            On all three counts, this government taken taken my taxpayer dollars and burnt them, because they do not have the skill to run a business.

            They possibly do have the skill to run a business but they’re not in government to run businesses but to hand public wealth over to private ownership.

            • Ad

              They have not demonstrated that skill.
              English in particular has guaranteed no more major asset sales this term.
              But Kiwibank, National Radio, and TVNZ etc fully on the block for after-election 2017.

              • Draco T Bastard

                But they have shown the skill needed to run down a business as an excuse to sell it off cheaply to the private sector.

              • Lanthanide

                “English in particular has guaranteed no more major asset sales this term.”

                So they proceed with ‘minor’ assets, like state housing instead.

              • maui

                Solid Energy & Kiwirail are looking pretty precarious though… Along with the continual trimming down of Government owned houses.

                • Ad

                  Solid Energy is no longer worth anything as a business. They will have a plant, equipment, and land fire sale, and just mothball all the mines.

                  Kiwirail, however, have enough land holdings in the major cities to keep themselves in cash for a little while. Not sure why anyone left or right would have any patience for them now – they’ve just fucked everything up in the last 5 years.

                  • weston

                    was there a time when rail hasnt been run by monkeys ?

                    • sirpat

                      it may have been RUN by monkeys but is kept going by a great bunch of staff who are committed to their work. ill informed comments like yours do not help……..if you want rail to do better then lets have some fairness in how transport is funded….for every km of rail we pay the FULL dollar price to keep it going……..road transport operators DO NOT…..keep slagging kiwirail off and you might get your wish, then we can listen to you bleat about the even more thousands of trucks on the road.

          • Reddelusion

            Government are useless at running business because of the quality of governance between real ownership and incentive of shareholder vs a thrice removed bureaucrat and government political meddling The history of state run companies world wide is littered with examples of huge inefficiencies, wastage and lack of innovation, hence the corporate model rather than the state is now the accepted model for industry and wealth creation. Every communist state barring North Korea, a couple of South American basket cases realise this. I am not necessary saying capital contributors need to own the firm, could be entrepreneurs, workers, Venture and human capital etc, just not government

            • mickysavage

              This Government is useless at running businesses for the reasons that AD just said.

              The history of private commerce is littered with examples of huge inefficiencies and greed and wastage and lack of appreciation for the common good.

              And you should not compare every progressive government to North Korea.

              • Reddelusion

                In the last 100 years the corporate model has created more wealth and innovation than the state ever could, Yes with some externalities ,distribution inequities etc I agree To argue otherwise is ridiculous. Ad just confirms my arguement why government can’t run business, left or right. The separation between ownership and control or risk and decision making coupled with political meddling simply doesn’t work

                • Draco T Bastard

                  In the last 100 years the corporate model has created more wealth and innovation than the state ever could

                  Considering that it was the governments that paid for it all – no it hasn’t.

                  The separation between ownership and control or risk and decision making coupled with political meddling simply doesn’t work

                  Doesn’t work in the corporate model either. If it did several thousands, if not millions, of bankers would now be begging for a living rather than getting million dollar salaries with million dollar bonuses. And I’m including the shareholders, the boards of directors and upper management in that. They all failed and yet they still have their jobs and are continue to do the same things.

                  We need a better model. Perhaps we should try democracy and remove money altogether.

                  • Reddelusion

                    Yeah right Draco China Russia had ago with state control. Did not go all that well. The problem with your argument is you assume your alternative reality would have done a better job, problem is it was tried and it failed miserably, including the death of millions. As per Churchill capitalism is not perfect but it’s better than anything else, including your mythical progressive government. The laws of economics, behavioural science, agency theory etc simply render your mystical ideology as redundant

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      China Russia had ago with state control. Did not go all that well.

                      Yeah, state capitalism sux just as much as Western Capitalism which is why I suggested democracy.

                      The problem with your argument is you assume your alternative reality would have done a better job, problem is it was tried and it failed miserably, including the death of millions.

                      Can you point to anywhere in history that economic distribution has been done by democracy?

                      The laws of economics, behavioural science, agency theory etc simply render your mystical ideology as redundant

                      There are no laws of economics but there are physical laws which present economic hypothesis actually claims to be able to defy in it’s drive for perpetual, exponential growth.

            • Keith

              “Government are useless at running business” Not all governments, just this one and its particularly bad at it, a bit like the economy!

        • mick

          so in another 4 years we would have lost more than we gained?

        • weston

          the locals ova on public addess do this chronicly say your trolling if you go against the narative i mean not so bad here

          [lprent: No but it pays to read the policy before getting too comfortable. Otherwise you will walk into a stupid behaviour trap and have a fast and humiliating exit.

          We like robust debate. We don’t care too much about what you say provided you are prepared to argue it and make clear what is opinion and what is fact. But unlike public address, the moderators (especially me) also like very robust ‘moderation’ and do not tend towards middle class kindness.

          Personally I like trolls to remember the very LARGE red dimple from my caustic full footed release all the way into their wee egos. I find this to helps inspire them to more caution later in their online life.

          This is your friendly caution. ]

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      Last time I looked the power companies are still there, all that has changed is who has residual claims to its profits and who takes the risk.

      Nope. The only thing that’s changed is the people who are getting money for doing absolutely nothing – ie, bludging. We’re still taking the risks as the government can’t actually allow the power companies to fail so when they do, which they will as the new private owners will drive them into the ground through not doing enough maintenance, the government will have to step in to fix things and the bludging shareholders will probably make a killing out of that as well. Same as Telecom failed to put in FttH forcing the government to step in and do it in fact.

      The government still has the 4 billion.

      No it doesn’t as it’s already paid more than that in interest on money it didn’t need to borrow.

  7. ianmac 7

    I hope the MSM picks up on this Micky. It seems to be a disaster for the taxpayer and an indictment on Government financial management!
    Surely Paddy will froth at this?

    • maui 7.1

      Tonight paddy was more interested in telling everyone how Kelvin Davis was at a charter school fundraiser when Labour are against charter schools. I noticed he wasn’t as exhuberant as usual, but still managed to destroy Labour’s credibility for the week.

  8. AmaKiwi 8

    “Labour MPs are to blame.”

    Yes because Labour has never tried to change our archaic system of governance in which the party that controls parliament is sovereign (i.e. our dictator).

    To change the system there must be a way the people can override parliament. NZ First and the Conservatives proposed binding citizen initiated referendums. Labour leaders won’t have a bar of it.

    We’re f*cked because parliament refuses to give up any power. Labour MPs are just waiting for their turn to play dictator for 3, 6, or 9 years.

    • dukeofurl 8.1

      Your argument is self defeating.

      • AmaKiwi 8.1.1

        dukeofurl –

        You can’t grasp the concept that dictatorships are dangerous? In this case:

        1. the dictators violated their obligation to represent the people, who voted “No” in a referendum and
        2. the dictator’s actions turned out to be an economic fiasco and
        3. Labour MPs have never proposed any limits on our form of dictatorial governance because they want to someday again be our dictators. Therefore they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

        Have another coffee and wake up or go back to bed and stop posting nonsensical one liners.

    • DoublePlusGood 8.2

      We can’t have binding citizen initiated referenda. To see why, you only need to look at the stupidity of the last one, where they asked a poorly worded question to try an effect a change that couldn’t be made.
      And what do you do when a referenda passes on a motion that directly violates human rights? Oppresses a minority? Yeah, that’s the reason why they aren’t made binding.
      If you want to punish a political party for ignoring public opinion, do so in a general election, not via referendum.

      • AmaKiwi 8.2.1


        To date, 2015 Swiss binding referendum questions:

        tax benefit for families with children
        tax on non-renewable energy
        gene technology
        university scholarships
        inheritance tax
        television & radio regulations

        2014 Swiss binding referendum questions:

        federal railway financing
        army weapons purchases
        minimum wage
        primary health care
        restrictions on pedophiles
        health insurance
        the country’s gold reserves
        flat tax (for more see Wikipedia: Swiss Referendums)

        I trust YOU and the other 3 million NZ voters to make BETTER decisions than I trust politicians.

        P.S. The Swiss have a non-partisan body to vet questions so the problems you mention do not arise.

        HOWEVER, politicians are the extremists, trying to re-design the country to their whims. My neighbors and I are the moderates who want to make modest changes to improve life, not to sell off everything, not make secret deals, and not harass whistle blowers, nor suck up to the USA.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.2.2

        To see why, you only need to look at the stupidity of the last one, where they asked a poorly worded question to try an effect a change that couldn’t be made.

        Which one was that one?

        And what do you do when a referenda passes on a motion that directly violates human rights? Oppresses a minority? Yeah, that’s the reason why they aren’t made binding.

        You may not have noticed but the government passes laws that violates regularly that why you have it so that the human rights are set first and have it so that laws can’t override them.

        And, yes, you even set the human rights via referendum.

        If you want to punish a political party for ignoring public opinion, do so in a general election, not via referendum.

        That, as we’ve seen, doesn’t work.

        • AmaKiwi


          Question. How do we “punish” MPs when they lie to us?

          Neither you nor I could survive in our job, our career, our marriage, nor our friendships if we lied, concealed facts, negotiated a binding contract in secrecy (TPPA), refused to answer direct questions, sought bribes which we concealed as anonymous “campaign donations,” and so forth. MPs do it so routinely it’s not even published as newsworthy! MPs live by a code of corruption which would be intolerable (and often illegal) for the rest of us.

          “At the end of the day I’m comfortable with it.”
          “I have no recollection of that.”
          “Labor does it, too.” “Actually, it’s all Labour’s fault.”

  9. Macro 9

    Actually the Nats are damn good at managing the transfer of wealth from those with little to those with plenty.
    So the country is going to be worse off in the long run?
    Uncle John’s comfortable with that! He is comfortable with this, because he doesn’t really care about this country, he only cares about his mates, and if his mates are better off – well then – that’s all that matters.

  10. Tricledrown 10

    Nateconomics = corporate wefare!
    =more long-term debt for taxpayers.

  11. Treetop 11

    This is what happens when you sell (partly or otherwise) a money making asset, it can only be sold once. Nothing learned by the government, next is state housing.

  12. maui 12

    As Stuart said on here the other day, if we replace Bill English with a rubber chicken New Zealand would be in a lot safer hands. That’s not even a joke either.

    Thanks for the insightful analysis Micky as always.

  13. Keith 13

    Speaking of energy I read on the Australian Financial Review that US shale oil production and efficiencies this industry has quickly made has raised the prospect that “If the oil futures market is correct, Saudi Arabia will start running into trouble within two years. It will be in existential crisis by the end of the decade” and “The contract price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $US62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states”.

    National have put a lot of stock into discovering oil and getting rich quick as a result, maybe to cover all the debt they’ve clocked up in their rat like brains of short term thinking. But oil hasn’t been found yet or at least not in any reliable cheap to access place and so it has become yet another misfire policy along with mining everything anywhere and a total reliance on dairy. I guess it will be back to selling NZ off to the highest bidder!

  14. Smilin 14

    I dont know but arent you suppose to balance the books to stay in business ?
    Or is that to real these days

    • lprent 14.1

      You’d sell capital that you are making a large profit on to cover a operational debt that you are paying lower amount of interest on? In less than 5 years if we didn’t sell these assets we’d have made in dividends more than was raised. Do you have a religious objection to making a profit as a country?

      Ummm. I guess you are the foolish type of book keeper who only looks at the religious book of how to be a borrower. Actually looking at who you are, it is more likely you worship at the ass of Act.

      FFS: We need a better and smarter quality of troll. Have the gates of kiwiblog burst and let these simpletons upon us.

  15. sirpat 15

    ” You’d sell capital that you are making a large profit on to cover a operational debt that you are paying lower amount of interest on? In less than 5 years if we didn’t sell these assets we’d have made in dividends more than was raised. Do you have a religious objection to making a profit as a country? “………….soooo bloody true…but yet selling these assets did not seem to raise the ire of the nation…..nor does 100bn of debt……….are they dosing the water supply or something to make us all compliant numpties?

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    1 day ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
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    2 days ago
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    2 days ago
  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
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  • Samoa Language Week theme is perfect for the post-COVID-19 journey
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  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
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    4 days ago
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    5 days ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
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    5 days ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
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    5 days ago
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  • New Principal Environment Judge
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    6 days ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
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    6 days ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
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    1 week ago
  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
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    1 week ago
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  • Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce
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    1 week ago
  • Sport Recovery Package announced
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    1 week ago
  • Major boost in support for caregivers and children
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    1 week ago
  • Great Walks recovery on track for summer
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    1 week ago
  • Māori – Government partnership gives whānau a new housing deal
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  • Keeping New Zealanders Safe In The Water
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    1 week ago
  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
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    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand condemns shocking attacks on hospital and funeral in Afghanistan
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  • $62 million package to support families through the Family Court
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    2 weeks ago
  • Tailored help supports new type of job seeker – report
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  • A modern approach to night classes
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  • Christchurch Call makes significant progress
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  • Christchurch Call: One year Anniversary
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  • Budget 2020: Jobs and opportunities for the primary sector
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