Imagine if National had not sold the shares in our companies

Written By: - Date published: 3:39 pm, September 9th, 2014 - 70 comments
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Companies in which National sold off shares have all recently reported their financial performance for the past 12 months and the amount of the final dividend they are paying.  I thought that I would have a back of the envelope stab at the amount of money that New Zealand Inc is missing out on to highlight the stupidity of the sell off of these shares.  I am presuming that all dividend payments were made under the new ownership regime, that is to private owners.  Campaign pressures prevent me from digging into the figures too far and working out if some of the dividends were nevertheless paid to the Crown.  I believe this approach is valid because it gives us an idea of what sort of yearly dividend stream the policy has diverted from public to private interests.

It is interesting to see the change in directors in the power companies.  Meridian’s directors are all the same.  MRP has two new appointments out of eight.  Genesis has two new out of nine.  The directors are predominately those appointed by the Government.  The suggestion that private ownership would bring increased fiscal discipline is a fallacy unless of course private shareholders were scrutinising the companies’ performance more than Bill English and the Treasury were.  A failure on the part of English and Treasury should never justify the sale of profitable Crown assets however.

As to the companies’ performances:

  • Meridian’s net profit after tax was $229.8 million and a total dividend of 13.01c per share is to be paid.  This includes a special divided of 2c per share from the sale of surplus land. The Government has lost us $163.4 million in dividend payments alone.
  • Mighty River Power announced a net profit of $212 million up on the IPO forecast of $160 million. It paid a dividend of 13.5c per share.  Dividend loss to us, $91.2 million.
  • Genesis Energy announced a net profit after tax of $49.2 million and paid a dividend of 13c per share.  Dividend loss to us, $61.9 million.  There is something unusual about the accounts which I have not yet got my head around.
  • And Air New Zealand had a good year announcing a net profit after tax of $262 million and total dividends of 0.20c per share.  Dividend loss to us, $44.3 million.

So all up in lost dividend alone in the past 12 months we may have missed out on $360.7 million.  Sure we have saved some money in interest savings but given the increase in the values of the companies and their performances it is clear that New Zealand inc has done very poorly.

All the companies have given a return which is greater than the government’s cost of borrowing.  And these figures do not include any allowance for bonus schemes or the cost of actually selling the shares.

If we had retained ownership we could have done such things as increased spending on health and education or reduced taxes.  These could have been the real justifiable here are the figures type tax cuts, not the hypothetical hypocritical cuts we are being promised by National.

New Zealand you have been had.

70 comments on “Imagine if National had not sold the shares in our companies”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    Make sure you all think of this when you head into that voting booth.

    Which parties will repurchase these assets if they have control. Those parties need your vote.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      Repossess, not repurchase. Take them back with extreme prejudice: now we know the extent of this government’s corruption they must be seen as the proceeds of crime.

      • Enough is Enough 1.1.1

        good point

        no wishy washy bullshit about if the economic conditions permit us.

        Just take back what was stolen from us.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          A ratfucking government is an illegitimate government. All their decisions must be treated as crime scenes.

          • TheContrarian 1.1.1.1.1

            Not liking the government or what they are doing does not make them illegitimate.

            Come back when they lose an election yet remain in power – then they’ll become illegitimate

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Is that what I said? That I don’t like them therefore they’re illegitimate? Why no, it isn’t.

              I was very specific, in fact. I said a ratfucking government is illegitimate, and its decisions are crime scenes.

              It’s an emotive term, ratfucking. In my own defence I use it since it was coined and given currency by its perpetrators.

              Want to argue the substance of my remark, Conty? Or something else?

              • TheContrarian

                I was arguing with the substance as the government isnt illegitimate. Given you only gave “ratfucking” as a reason I assumed it was because you didn’t like to current govt as a reason as opposed to them actually fucking rats.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Are you really going to advance your pretended ignorance of the term where a substantive argument belongs?

                  Political sabotage or dirty tricks.

                  There, now you can’t pretend ignorance any more.

                  Corrupt methods yield corrupt decisions and corrupt results. Your denial is indistinguishable from complicity. Are you one of these scum?

                  • TheContrarian

                    I’m just trying to figure out in what way this is an illegitimate government because the only reason given so far is “because ratfuckers”

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Really, is that my argument? Or did I lay it out in more detail in a charitable attempt to ignore your deceitful pretence that you don’t understand the term?

                      If you can’t figure out how a deliberate scheme to undermine democracy (eg: the plan to lower turnout) affects the legitimacy of a government, that’s probably because your prejudice requires that you don’t figure it out, you poor sad follower.

                    • Bazar

                      To claim that the government isn’t legitimate “because ratfuckers”, goes to show how much contempt you have for democracy.

                      Each vote at the last election counted. To disregard the results and claim a crime “because ratfuckers” is as hilarious as it is delusional.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      It’s a good thing my argument isn’t “because ratfuckers” then, eh.

                      Probably a good thing I didn’t challenge the validity of the votes cast either.

                      The sad thing is that right wing gimps can’t even address the issue without lying about my argument. It’s a consequence of their low intelligence if you ask me.

                  • TheContrarian

                    I’m just trying to figure in what way the govt is illegitimate given the only reason forwarded so far is “because ratfuckers”

                    (apologies if this is a duplicate post – something weird happened during the submit process)

                    • Rich

                      I agree with One Anon. I also agree with you quite a lot but on this one I’m with one anon. He or she is saying what we all think.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Thanks Rich.

                      Hager is hammering the message home in his speeches. The people who have the most information are feeling cowed and silenced, and it’s deliberate.

                      It’s a direct consequence of the SOE model, and the ratfuckers’ willingness to exploit commercial values to enforce compliance.

          • dave 1.1.1.1.2

            the incoming government needs to set up a royal commission into the John key government corruption i say use power nz policy to confiscate there profits then buy them back at half the value but i think with universal kiwi saver these assets should be vested in perpetuity in the Cullen fund and kiwi saver because there a target for thieving nacts and I worry about the Cullen fund these nacts will loot that to given a chance.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.2.1

              I don’t think subterfuge is a good plan at all: the Royal Commission must have an open brief and the power to compel witnesses. No doubt John Key is a flight risk.

              The Commission will hear evidence of illegal activity in government. If proven, I suggest judicial review is the appropriate avenue to revisit any Ministerial decisions tainted by the ratfuckers.

              Our international standing has been seriously damaged by Key et al, we have to follow an open legal process to address the issue or they win.

  2. Rodel 2

    How does this get widely publicized? Not through our timid journalists I’ll bet.

  3. wyndham 3

    On top of that little lot is the investment interest foregone on the NZ Superannuation fund brought about by Nats cutting the contributions.
    Don’t know the amount but it’s considerable. I seem to remember you Micky, running a post on it not too long ago.

  4. StarSpangledBallet 4

    The New Zealand public received approximately $4.7B in cash from the partial sale, which included the present value of expected future cashflows to equity holders i.e. dividends. Ergo your contention that New Zealanders have forgone $360M is erroneous.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      You seem financially literate. Tell me, whose long term financial interests was it in to gift our nation’s strategic assets with a massive 8.5% ROI, to the private sector?

      • Rich 4.1.1

        The present value of that dividend stream with the asset worth 12.25b (a 5% year on year increase) at the end of a 20 year period is 6.98 billion dollars. (assuming a 7% annual return but with assets like this that’s probably quite high, in other words this is a conservative estimate).

        Effectively they have received at least a 52% discount on the value of the asset.

        • Rich 4.1.1.1

          Or in other words they’re getting an 11% return on their investment in interest alone, one that as reliable as this should be only getting someone maybe 4.5%. Add in the probable capital appreciation and they’re looking at maybe a 14-15% return. Their alternative in this sort of market (i.e as safe as houses) would have been US bonds at 3.24% (current 30 year rate). Ripping off New Zealand is a good investment decision.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      Dividend income is only one measurement of the worth of a company. It’s underlying value is also important and if this goes up and you have sold the shares then you miss out.

      I would also be interested in the net amount received for the sale which takes into account the cost of selling and bonus shares etc.

      The bottom line is that even on dividend flow it was a silly decision to make. An increase in share value only makes the decision worse.

      • mickysavage 4.2.1

        In fact if you do another quick back of the envelope calculation on the change in value of the companies based on their share prices then the value of the shares sold based on today’s share price have changed as follows:

        Meridian – $251m increase
        MRP – $47m decrease
        Genesis – $157m increase
        Air NZ – $124m increase

        Collectively the shares that we sold are now worth $485 million more than what they were based on the price we sold them for. And we have lost out on the dividend income.

        • indiana 4.2.1.1

          “back of the envelope calculation”

          That’s been the downfall of all Labour’s policies…you really shouldn’t entice people to cast a vote based on this method of analysis.

          • mickysavage 4.2.1.1.1

            More of a spreadsheet calculation but feel free to state if my figures are not correct.

            • indiana 4.2.1.1.1.1

              I’m not going to state that your figures are incorrect – but I will suggest that these figures have been massaged by you to try and get a message across that it was all a bad decision to sell. When you state that the shares sold are worth $485M and we have lost dividends you haven’t also stated under state ownership what the growth trend of that share were or the dividend paid out to make a fair comparison. I really do question that under state ownership the proportion of shares sold would have reached $485M.

              • mickysavage

                Not at all. The figures are the figures. If the assets had been retained in public ownership the dividends paid may have been smaller but the value of the companies would have gone up by a larger amount.

          • Tracey 4.2.1.1.2

            Without a touch of irony… Nats clayton tax cuts anyone

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Well, technically that $360M hasn’t been “lost”, instead it’s gone to better, wealthier households.

  6. Ad 6

    Mickey It’s too late for counterfactuals.

    Labour isn’t proposing getting them back. Or their dividends. They have no answer.

    Maybe in a post-victory policy cabinet they could amalgamate the governance of ACC, EQC and NZSuperfund and re-weight for local utilities…

    …in a post-victory world …

    • mickysavage 6.1

      Yep “told you so” is one of the most unsatisfying phrases in the English Language.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        Quite easy to get them back when the decision to sell them was a crime, perpetrated by criminals. Investigate the links between the National Party and the biggest beneficiaries of the sale, or accept that gang members like Ede and Key and Lusk are going to rule the country.

        Your call.

      • Ergo Robertina 6.1.2

        “The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”
        – gore vidal.
        that National hasn’t been crucified for this mess is what’s ‘unsatisfying’.

  7. johnm 7

    Smirking Chimp has done it. He loots NZ and now a tax bribe while debt soars and child poverty doesn’t exist, the triumph of filthy greed and NZers are culpable stooges. The man is sickening puppet of the U$ hollow nothing as well.

  8. blue leopard 8

    Every child in poverty could have been given $1000 this year for that amount. The families in poverty probably would have been able to solve a lot of issues for that amount.
    Instead the money was given to people who already had plenty.

    Jolly good.

    Vote left.

  9. Weepus beard 9

    At $360 million per annum we would have accounted for the $4.7 billion in 12-15 years.

    Hardly a lifetime away yet the selling of those shares was a once in a multiple generation event.

  10. Black Lemming 10

    If smirky chimp was growing up in a state house in Aranui now he would never go on to be a flash banker or the PM of NZ .

    Why ?

    Because , he would become the victim of his own child poverty .There would be no food in the fridge , he’d be too weak to concentrate in class and would end up as a dopesmoking temp worker on a council rubbish truck.

    • Murray Olsen 10.1

      Then he’d get drug tested and lose his job, plus any prospects of further employment. Then, as he tries to get help from WINZ, the fun really starts.

  11. Jepenseque 11

    Going by the arguments here the govt should own all assets that return above its cost of borrowing. That would be almost everything..

    • Zorr 11.1

      Why, yes Jepenseque.

      Don’t know about you, but if I was wanting to make an ongoing profit, that is *exactly* what I would be doing.

      EDIT: Ah, see what you were driving at there now thanks to “reason” below. The NZ government should not be selling our assets full stop. They rule this country for the people, not for *some* people.

  12. JanMeyer 12

    Just imagine … if ants were called elephants and elephants ants, I’d be able to squash an elephant!

  13. reason 13

    No jepenseque………. just holding onto the ones built and paid for by past generations of taxpayers and already owned by all New Zealanders is what we had wanted.

    The old ‘electricity department ‘ had a brief to provide reliable power at the cheapest possible price for the benefit of our country.

    Private companies have the motivation to make the most profit for themselves ……… spot the difference which is as small as enron

    • tc 13.1

      Would the old NZED have taken over 15years to resolve diversity of supply to akl CBD only recently resolved by transpower and vector after the 90’s blackout.

      Our power system is top heavy with self and shareholder interests now and nowhere near as efficient at as it was under the NZED and a classic example of why essential infrastructure needs to stay in public hands.

    • distubed 13.2

      100% I worked for two power schemes Manpouri and Turangi.

      They in 1966 said we would have cheap always available power.

      I’m afraid those days are gone my friend.
      Hollow men hollowing out our country to the rich foreigners.

  14. BM 14

    I don’t see the issue

    If there’s a problem, just tax the sheeple some other way. eg: up the ACC levy, no one ever looks that one on the pay slip.

    • Lanthanide 14.1

      “If there’s a problem, just tax the sheeple some other way. eg: up the ACC levy, no one ever looks that one on the pay slip.”

      That explains why National put it up to 2.04% under their watch, from the 1.3% it was under Labour. Thanks!

      Also explains why it’s now 1.45% coming up to the election, and Key has made some ephemeral statements that it’ll be reduced in the years ahead.

  15. reason 15

    btw …. By old I’m referring back to ministry of work and MED days .

  16. tc 16

    What about the loss on sale as I thought even the 49% flogged was for billions less then the ‘valuation’.

    Not that any valuation would be able to capture the amount having cheap reliable power for business and residential consumers is objectively.

    It’s not only a necessity of life but a fundamental economic driver that is now majority not in the public hands as contact went last innings from the Nats.

    Also didn’t Blinglish slip a one off divvy out the back door of meridian after herr brownless shonkey power station swap loaded genesis with more debt in order to cough up to meridian.

    • Puddleglum 16.1

      National/Treasury were hoping for between 5 and 7 billion for the sold assets. They received below that ($4.7bn).

      At the time many business and economics commentators were pointing out that the sales seemed to be ideologically/politically driven rather than commercially driven as it was not a good time to sell.

  17. SPC 17

    Borrow a few billion and buy the shares back at the price that the shareholder paid for them.

    At 5% public debt (it’s lower at the moment), the cost is c $230M pa – $130Mpa less than the dividend return.

    Why did Labour not run on this policy?

    PS – the market impact of offering to buy back shares at the price people paid for them – is those sitting on unrealised gains trying to take them and driving down the price on the market back to issue levels.

    As Winnie might be well aware.

  18. philj 18

    ‘NZ Inc.’ is a term coined? by neo lib radicals to frame our society using corporate terminology. I don’t think this terminology is approximate in
    a left leading blog post. Otherwise, great work MS.

    • the pigman 18.1

      I think MS might be doing so facetiously, you know um, colonise and appropriate the language of the Right to turn it back on them in a rueful/sarcastic manner?

      The Right are masters of this (cf. “Taxpayers Union”, the chameleon name for a bunch of arch-righties who want nothing more but to smash unions).

      It will be crappy if the Left lose this election, but just think of all the fun we’ll have talking about “NZ being on the cusp of something magical” and the “brighter future” over the next 3 years.

  19. Nic the NZer 19

    Mike this whole narrative is simply playing into the neoliberal narrative that the country can go broke (it can’t). The government has exactly the same spending capacity with or without these dividends or the sale value.

    The reason for the sale was just so National can engage in political point scoring by getting a small surplus (which is a meaningless achievement). And because they are ideologically attached to privatisation.

    The reason to keep control of these assets was so the government could influence the price of power to New Zealand. However since National have been in office they have been cranking every cent of profit possible out of their SOEs (also meaningless for a government to ‘profit’).

    Dont give the Meanies any excuse for insufficient social spending, including we are broke (we are not).

  20. infused 20

    So fuck all then?

  21. distubed 21

    Nationalise with printed money? everyone else does even China?

  22. NZ Nat Govt, 45%, backed up by NZF 8% and UF and ACT.
    Try to get real

  23. Gosman 23

    This is entirely consistent with what you would expect with private shareholdings as the companies in question have more pressure to keep profitability high and return funds to shareholders.

    • Lanthanide 23.1

      Because Bill English and Tony Ryall weren’t actually doing their job? So somehow the answer is to sell the assets to someone who can do the job properly, not change ministers?

      Also, the government were so desperate for money from these SOEs that they forced Meridian to sell two of their dams to Genesis so they could suck the money out as a special dividend, so quite clearly the government was capable of some forms of pressure… just not the ones to keep profitability high? They claimed that this sale would (somehow) make the electricity generation system more efficient, despite all electricity market commentators and the companies themselves disagreeing.

      Ironically the part that actually proves your assertion, while also damning the government, is that now that Genesis and Meridian have both been partially privatised, the new owners are looking to reverse the government’s bone-head decision because it’s far more efficient for Meridian to own all of the dams on the river, rather than having it split between them and Genesis.

      So, we’ve proven that National ministers are incompetent and money-grubbing. Those a synonyms for “ideologically driven”, btw.

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