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National’s asset sales cost $124m + $2.3m per week

Written By: - Date published: 7:26 am, September 4th, 2013 - 31 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

National says that $9m is too expensive for you to have your democratic say on asset sales (that’s less than the budget for Pike River re-entry, which everyone supports even though it’s unlikely to recover bodies). What National doesn’t want to you now is that they’ve spent at least $124m on the asset sales so far, and the foregone net profits from Mighty River is running at $2.3m a week.

I’ve just dragged and dropped the Greens’ table of what National’s squandered on the asset sales so far:

National’s asset sales have cost more than $124m so far

Total asset sales cost so far: $124.3m


Treasury spending: $41.1m (as of 30 June 2013)

  • Advertising:$6.5m
  • Other outsourced: $29.6m
  • Internal: $5.0m

Treasury spent $28.005m on the sale of Mighty River Power and $13.115m on the wider programme


Spending by the companies: $17.8m (as of 30 June 2013)

  • Genesis Energy: $1.3m
  • Meridian Energy: $3.5m
  • Mighty River Power (MRP): $12.8m
  • Solid Energy: $0.2m


Bonus shares for MRP: $25.0m


Rio Tinto pay-off: $30.0m


Asset sales referendum: $9.0m

(the referendum is only being held as a result of the asset sales policy)


Waitangi water dispute: $0.9m


Bonus payment to MRP CEO: $0.5m

(this payment was made for Heffernan agreeing to stay on as CEO until after the sale)



Costs still to come: hundreds of millions

Stopping the asset sales now will save hundreds of millions of dollars


31 comments on “National’s asset sales cost $124m + $2.3m per week”

  1. Sable 1

    Maybe rename themselves the Parasite Party or Corporate Crooks Inc? This comes as no surprise as both of the old parties have become to a lesser or greater degree corrupt, selling the souls to the corporate devil. If there is any hope for this country it lies in the newer more progressive parties.

  2. Bearded Git 2

    As I keep saying, the Rio Tinto pay-off should have something like $100 million added to it because National leaned on Meridian to rip up their existing power price contract with Rio Tinto and give them a new deal with much cheaper power prices. [Chalky did an article on this, I think in the Dom Post?]

    So for $124m read $224m plus $2.3m a week.

    Which means $9m for the cost of democracy is peanuts, and anyway the referendum process is expressly provided for by parliament. National needs to say it will change the law if it has a problem with referenda, instead of lying and whinging.

    Jim Mora on the Panel yesterday showed his rabid anti-green tenedencies in saying over and over that the vote would cost $30m. Not good enough.

  3. Bob 3

    James, You obviously like numbers, so how about these:

    a = $1.7B raised from the Mighty River float
    b = $124M spent on asset sales so far 9trusting your numbers)
    c = $168M dividends in the 2012/13 financial year (51% of this goes back to the Goverment, and this is far and away their largest dividend in the last 5 years)

    Realised dividends = (a-b)/(c*0.51)
    18.39 year dividend realised.

    Now, add to this (a-b) is a positive interest bearing asset, therefore increasing the duration of true realised dividend and even if this is spent, this is money that does not need to come off the Governments books which are already operating in the red, therefore mitigating any increase in interest from external borrowing.

    b also take into account money spent (according to your numbers above) moving Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy towards their float therefore increasing their realised dividends once they are floated, and it also includes one-off $9.9M costs incurred due to opposition to the plans.

    One more thing to take into account, a large number of shares in MRP were purchased by Kiwisaver providers and the Superannuation Fund which provides solid returns for average Joe/Jane Blogs retirement funds rather than having to invest either overseas or in riskier investments, of course Russel Norman will have you believe that these investments are just the top 2% of ‘rich pricks’ taking money from ordinary NZ’ers

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1

      A large number of shares Kiwisaver providers ?
      Really ?

      You have the numbers from the share register.

    • wtl 3.2

      What kind of bizarre accounting are you using where the monetization of an asset is classified as a ‘realised dividend’?

    • framu 3.3

      hmm – i cant see where youve accounted for the ongoing reduced dividend to the public, or the fact the dividend to the public is reduced at all

      or the increased board salaries – wheres that?

      and how does “moving Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy towards their float” increase the dividend?

      • Bob 3.3.1

        “i cant see where youve accounted for the ongoing reduced dividend to the public, or the fact the dividend to the public is reduced at all” Here (c*0.51). I could have added the fact that if these dividends reduce due to changes in tech or unknown future costs i.e natural disaster, we have reduced our exposure to risk, but still recieve benefit from potential increase in dividend.

        “or the increased board salaries – wheres that?”
        One-off costs are included in ‘b’ (as per Jamses’ numbers above), and ongoing costs would come out of dividends.

        “and how does “moving Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy towards their float” increase the dividend?”
        It would increase their realised dividends (i.e the $ raised from the float) as these costs have already been accounted for in the above calculations, you don’t have to double calculate one-off costs therefore ‘b’ would be lower for future floats.

        • framu

          (c*0.51) – so dividend @ 51%?

          which is a damn sight worse than dividend @ 100%

          can you combine dividends (ie: profits that all share holders receive over time) receive with the one off profits of share trading? That sounds like dodgy math to me

          For the record – im no economist or sharetrader – so i’ll apologise up front for anything i say that might seem a bit thick on this subject, but all the calculations that support the sales seem to only ever look at a single fixed point in time – when we should be looking at the ongoing, long term situation as well.

          treasury (among many others) says its gonna hurt us in the long term

          • Bob

            And you are correct, there are potentially long term loses on these sales due to inflation if the companies continue to operate with growth over a period of time (which is always assumed, hence the negativity towards asset sales), but there is the converse benefit of a reduction of exposure to risk within the asset. The key to the whole excercise is how the government uses the funds. If they use them to diversify their business interests (like the way they have effectively re-nationalised part of the telecoms fibre network through the UFB deal via Crown Fibre Holdings http://www.crownfibre.govt.nz/about/ ) then no-one should have a problem with this, but until there is a clear guidline on how they will spend the funds there will be an outcry and misinformation thrown around. They only have themselves to blame for this.

            • Draco T Bastard

              but there is the converse benefit of a reduction of exposure to risk within the asset.

              There isn’t any. The government must keep the power going and so, after the private owners reduce maintenance and upgrade spending, the government will be forced to step in with billions of dollars to fix the fuckup – just like it had to with rail and Telecom.

              The key to the whole excercise is how the government uses the funds.

              Wrong, the government didn’t need the funding supplied that way. The best way for a government to get funding is to print the money at 0% and then raise taxes slightly.

              (like the way they have effectively re-nationalised part of the telecoms fibre network through the UFB deal via Crown Fibre Holdings http://www.crownfibre.govt.nz/about/ )

              That’s the very solid proof of the dead weight loss of private profit and the main reason as to why we shouldn’t be selling state assets. If we hadn’t sold Telecom in the first place then the $17B+ that has been taken out in dividends would have been used to upgrade the network – we’d already have the FttH that the government is now having to pay for.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.4

      Realised dividends = (a-b)/(c*0.51)
      18.39 year dividend realised.

      minus the infinite lifetime of state assets = infinite loss.

      also take into account money spent (according to your numbers above) moving Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy towards their float therefore increasing their realised dividends once they are floated,

      And that is completely illogical. Selling a business doesn’t magically increase its dividends.

  4. Craig 4

    Once again, when can we expect to see Team Cunliffe and Team Robertson do some significant policy development on the capital gains tax front? The problem with the referendum is that it seems based on purely negative sentiment against asset sales, which is fair enough, considering widespread antipathy against privatisation. However, there are two poles to this debate and the other is advancing a coherent and elaborated alternative fiscal policy in detail and depth.

  5. Bob 5

    Also James, you say that the asset sales have cost us $2.3M per week. Firstly, that is wrong, that is $2.3M in lost earnings, not a cost as you state, and if you want to play that game, you could say that the sale of the assets which netted $1.576B using your numbers above, has actually just given us an advance of $2.3M/week of our dividends from the next 57 years!

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Actually, where the hell did you get the $1.576b from?

      • wtl 5.1.1

        He seems to think the money raised from the share sales came out of thin air, and is forgetting that it is offset by the loss of the capital value of the shares sold.

      • Bob 5.1.2

        $1.7B raised from the float minus the $124M listed above

        • Draco T Bastard

          Ok then. It actually looks like this:

          $1,576,000,000/$2,300,000 = 685 weeks
          685/52 = 13 years

          So, either you’really, really bad at maths or you were lying.

          • Macro

            Bob is really clever at maths – in fact he is SO clever he fools even himself!

          • Lanthanide

            Yeah, 57 years would actually seem like not too bad a deal at all.

            13 years on the other hand is pretty shite.

  6. tricledrown 6

    Bob what about lost divedends given the 52% increase in profit last year!

  7. infused 7

    “What National doesn’t want to you now”

    Less frothing, more spell checking.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      While taking our society backwards.

      • srylands 8.1.1

        No it is bringing our society a little into line with international norms. Hopefully the first step to transferring all SOEs to private ownership

    • Tracey 8.2

      No need to keep screwing workers over then, if business is already so gosh darn competitive…. and has been for about a decade, something national supporters failed to recognise in the last Labour Government.

      They have “succeeded” in most areas the OECD already has us a being business competitive but interesting what this laissez-faire championing party has not managed to budge

      “failed to improve on its innovation and business sophistication factors

      Am struggling to see the print for NZ, can someone tell me what it said about wages?

      here’s the link to the report


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