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Looters’ bonus to cost $40 million

Written By: - Date published: 7:57 am, April 8th, 2013 - 25 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

Bill English has just admitted to Breakfast (good questioning by Nadine Chalmers-Ross) that the looters’ bonus on Mighty River Power will cost around $40m. You and I can think of many valuable things this government could be doing with $40m, rather than giving it to people who already have thousands in the bank. But that number also tells us something.

If National’s planning to give away up $40m of free shares at a rate of 1 for every 25 that retail investors still hold after 2 years, then they think ‘mum and dad’ will buy a total of $1 billion shares in the company out of $2 billion worth floated. In other words, half these shares won’t be bought by ‘mum and dad’, they’ll be flogged off to corporates and foreign buyers.

And, ironically, that $40m is likely to be too little to stop retail investors selling up. It’s only 2% a year. In the QR National sale, the loyalty bonus was 6.6% in one year and two-thirds of retail investors sold before it came due. An incentive that costs but is too small to influence behaviour is just money down the drain.

In the same interview, English refused to put any figures on the risks that Mighty River faces from Tiwai closing and from other things like regulatory reform (which, you might recall, becomes a whole lot more feasible and attractive after the sell-down). Mark my words, English will have real advice on the value of those risks. So will institutional investors. It’s just you – ‘mum and dad’ – who are being asked to invest with your eyes closed.

25 comments on “Looters’ bonus to cost $40 million”

  1. IrishBill 1

    then they think ‘mum and dad’ will buy a total of $1 billion shares in the company out of $2 billion worth floated.

    Or they think the stock price will halve (but I doubt it). I’d bet that $40m was the lowest of a range of forecasts. Probably should be an OIA.

    • ghostrider888 1.1

      an OIA after request has been through the “laundering process” to quote Annette King.

  2. Raymond a Francis 2

    So which is it:
    We are “looters” for trying to keep NZ assets owned by NZers (using our own money)
    Or half wits for not knowing the risks in doing that
    Or just a pack of rich pricks who need to be done down?

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      It’s not a very nice way to put it, but investment without full knowledge of the risks is quite foolish. Does that make you a half-wit?

      The desire to return stolen property to its rightful owner has more to do with doing the right thing by the victim than any desire to do the perpetrator down.

      • Akldnut 2.1.1

        “So which is it:
        We are “looters” for trying to keep NZ assets owned by NZers (using our own money)
        Or half wits for not knowing the risks in doing that
        Or just a pack of rich pricks who need to be done down?”

        I would say all of the above

    • felix 2.2

      “So which is it:”

      I don’t understand the question, Raymond. There’s nothing mutually exclusive in any of your propositions.

  3. RJLC 3

    In other words, half these shares won’t be bought by ‘mum and dad’, they’ll be flogged off to corporates and foreign buyers.

    A greater number could be “bought” by NZer’s but then on-sold.
    The number may reflect shares expexted to be “retained’ . I don’t find your wording clear.

  4. cmburns 4

    Pish posh you silly peasants !

    Smithers release the hounds !

  5. chris73 5

    More importantly does this mean I’ll get more shares? Schweet!

  6. I wonder if it is sensible to invest in last century’s technologies.

    • prism 6.1

      Wake up maggie I think I got something to say to you

      What pray are you talking about Last century technology – do you mean electricity? We haven’t developed effective and safe technology to replace that. Sun nuclear batteries waves, manpower, don’t and can’t replace our hydro. And aluminium if that’s what you’re on about is very effective as far as strength and light weight is concerned.

  7. Ad 7

    These guys are lying about quantifying risk: they know more than they are letting on and are leaving it to broker analysts to smoke it out. This is piss poor if you are trying to decide to buy this stock, and will only serve to lower the entry price, and make the trading really volatile for quite some time.

    National are using the “Looter Bonus” as compensation for the extra risk that they are failing to address in their own prospectus either through regulation, direct intervention, or simply better quantification of risk. For those who have spare cash lying around, why would they choose this stock rather than a more solid proposition?

    Failing to disclose risk properly in a prospectus. Hmmm. Bridgecorp anyone? I hope they end up in court, and in jail.

  8. DH 8

    I had a look at the offer document. I can’t believe they made it 262 pages long! You also really need to read some of the annual reports to get a picture of the business and they’re 80-100 pages each so anyone taking it seriously has over 600 pages of reading. Can skim through a lot of it but i can’t see many people taking it all in.

    After wading thru the OD and a few annual reports I won’t even pretend I know whether it’s a good investment or not, haven’t a clue. A lot of the offer document explanations were copied out of the 2012 report, a bit annoying having to read it twice.

    I’d like to see some non-swahili explanations of their cost of funding and derivatives, the beancounter-speak in the offer document keeps making the head reboot. Looking back through the annual reports the movements in fair value of derivatives are wildly out of proportion to the level of borrowing or interest costs.

    They state their average cost of funding up to at least 2014 is a huge 8.2-8.3% which is higher than the return on share price. Any increase in borrowing at that rate would reduce the dividend yield since the projected yield is only 7.7%.

    8.3% is also higher than their quoted interest rates on existing borrowing, only a third of their loans are bonds at 8% the rest are floating or fixed at <5%. From that I presume they've hedged at that 8%, which leads to their derivatives contracts. Why have they got $2.7 billion of interest rate swaps to hedge less than $500million worth of floating rate loans? How long are the swap contracts for and what are the terms & rates? What price are they hedging new borrowing at?

    I wouldn't buy shares anyway but it would be in the too hard basket for me. The use of derivatives and mark-to-market in today's accounting just makes it all too confusing IMO, have to rely on their forecasting which kinda defeats the purpose of the balance sheet and income statement.

    • saarbo 8.1

      That is fascinating DH, you certainly bring up some valid concerns?

      “Mum and Dad Investors” are going to get really excited about buying these shares when they read this stuff!

  9. Tiresias 9

    I’m certainly pulling back hard on the amount I had originally earmarked for this purchase – which has been sitting quietly in the bank while the Government made such a pig’s-ear of getting its ducks in a row, which with the Tiwai Point gun at their heads they still haven’t.

    The Indicative Price ($2.35 – $2.80) with comments that it might be even higher or lower is ridiculous. At $2.35 – $2.50 it would be a good buy but the risk it might be $2.60 or higher makes it a lot less attractive and I’m not going to put too much on the table to find the demand from “Mum and Dad Kiwis” means I ended up paying too much.

    Of course politics as much as economics is going to play a part in setting the price which leans on it being at the lower end – National aren’t going to want to go into the next election with a few hundred-thousand voters feeling they’ve been shafted, and with Genesis et al coming onto the market before memories of this one have faded the Nats are not going to want to have spooked the horses.

    As for the bonus, I buy shares for income and hence hold them as long as they are performing – I still have all my Contact shares – so for me it simply represents a $0.10 or so discount on what I’m paying now.

  10. Walter 10

    I cant wait till the mighty river shares hit the market, bring on asset sales.

    • MrSmith 10.1

      I can’t wait either Walter, till after they are listed that is, so I can pick up a bargain.

      • Tiresias 10.1.1

        I think you might have a long wait, Mr. Smith. The Nats are not going to risk having egg on their faces with a Facebook fiasco.

        They’ll sound out what the Institutions will pay for MRP shares and set the price a little below that so’s the Mums and Dad’s will see a small capital gain right away, and will probably work behind the scenes to support the price if necessary until after the next election.

        Of course if National loses the next election it will be Labour who’ll be landed with forking out the bonus.

        I haven’t read the Prospectus yet, but am curious as to how the Government intends to meet this bonus obligation without giving up its 51% shareholding.

  11. georgecom 12

    Nice of the tax payer to cough up a $40 million subsidy to the 5% who will purchase shares.

    A $40 million transfer of wealth from all of us who currently benefit from MRP profits to the 5% who will benefit from MRP profits.

    Thats what the loyalty bonus equates to – a tax payer subsidy, a transfer of wealth, an unearned bonus.

    The 95% subsidise the pockets of the 5%.

    A % of the population (we have seen and heard this enough to know) will moan long and hard regarding beneficiaries receiving ‘handouts’ but they will happily pocket this $40 ‘handout’. Maybe someone can explain to me how this is not actually hypocrisy.

    • Arafamo 12.1

      Maybe someone can explain to me how this is not actually hypocrisy.

      Certainly. If you have the wherewithall to purchase MRP shares you deserve to get help from the taxpayer to enable you to make more money from these shares so that you will be able to contribute more to charities like food banks which do a better job of feeding poor people than the government does. This cannot be hypocrisy because it is more accurately defined as hip-pocketocracy.

      • georgecom 12.1.1

        The wonderful late 19th century ideal of the deserving poor. In order to fund the philantrophy the deserving rich first need their pockets lined, so they can give a fraction to the rest.

    • MrSmith 12.2

      Yes they’re stealing from us except now we are paying for the meals, hotels and taxis as well, nothing has really changed except Under Key they now do it in broad daylight.

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