NRT: Privatization is theft

Written By: - Date published: 6:56 am, April 3rd, 2014 - 33 comments
Categories: assets, national, Privatisation, uk politics - Tags:

no-right-turn-256A government is carrying out a crash-program of privatization without a mandate. It is desperate to sell, so it sets the price of the shares artificially low, and loses $1.5 billion in a single day.

No, this isn’t New Zealand (yet) – its the UK:

The government’s desperation to sell Royal Mail cost taxpayers £750m in a single day, the National Audit Office has said in a scathing report into the privatisation of the 500-year-old national institution.

The public spending watchdog says the business secretary Vince Cable ploughed ahead with plans to float Royal Mail at a maximum price of 330p-a-share despite repeated warnings from City experts that the government had vastly undervalued the company.

[…]

Royal Mail’s shares spiked 38% on their debut on the stock market on 11 October – the biggest one-day rise in a privatisation since British Airways in 1987 – as investors tried to buy up more than 23 times the number of shares available.

The audit office said the government could have made an additional £750m for taxpayers if it had priced the sale at the first day closing price of 455p rather than the maximum 330p starting price. Achieving an additional £750m from the sale could have covered the annual salaries of an additional 34,000 NHS nurses.

Cut to New Zealand: the National Party is carrying out a crash-program of privatization without a mandate. It is desperate to sell Genesis Energy before the election, so it has set the price of shares artificially low. Its pretty obvious what will happen next – but I’m sure their donors and cronies will be happy with the free gift of public wealth.

When governments in the developing world sell public assets to cronies at bargain-basement prices, we call it what it is: corruption and theft. The National Party (and the UK Conservative party) are no different. And its time we held them criminally responsible for their theft of public wealth.

33 comments on “NRT: Privatization is theft”

  1. Jrobin 1

    Didn’t you read John Armstrong Lprent? Apparently no one cares about this now. I suppose this strategy has worked so far. Keep repeating lies in MSM and the sheep follow obediently.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    The audit office said the government could have made an additional £750m for taxpayers…

    No they couldn’t have. The asset was worth more than it was selling for else it wouldn’t have been selling at all. A sale is always a loss.

    When governments in the developing world sell public assets to cronies at bargain-basement prices, we call it what it is: corruption and theft. The National Party (and the UK Conservative party) are no different. And its time we held them criminally responsible for their theft of public wealth.

    QFT

  3. Wayne 3

    Picking up on the last sentence, it could be suggested to David Cunliffe that a “key” Labour campaign promise would be a retrospective change to the criminal law, to enable the prosecution of John Key et al (perhaps including me since I was part of the Cabinet that said we should make privatization part of the 2011 Manifesto, and I did say the sales would have to be appealing to investors).

    If nothing else, it would excite a lot of interest(!) by the commentariat.

    Would it be the killler app that would bring out the 800,000?

    And even if DC thinks this is a tad too far, Hone and Kim Dotcom might be enthusiastic.

    • Tracey 3.1

      Funny Wayne. Glad to see we all keep our sense of humour in tact.

      What did you make of the 4 reports last week that said at 1.63 the genesis offering is very undervalued, with their estimates ranging to 1.60 to 1.97?

      What interest me is that if you buy now, and then vote for national craigs suggests the value could reach 1.95…

      ” Genesis Energy shares have been valued at $1.63 per share, near the top of the price range of $1.35 to $1.65, according to a report by Craigs Investment Partners.

      The shares could also be worth 10 cents per share more because of the potential for windfall gains in dry years, the report says.”

      and then

      “Research company Edison says Genesis has a fair value range of $1.79 and $1.97. The upper limit is 27 percent more than the price the Government is asking. Edison’s mid-point valuation is $1.88, a 21.3 percent premium to the offer price.

      “We think it’s the most attractive of the offerings so far by the Government. The main draw to that is the yield that’s being offered, which we see as the strongest,” says analyst Tim Heeley.

      On current polling, Mr Heeley says the risk of the shares losing their value if Labour and the Greens form a government later this year is “minor”.

      Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Genesis-shares-underpriced-say-researchers/tabid/421/articleID/338101/Default.aspx#ixzz2xlMZlfwu

      “Woodward Partners’s John Kidd says the offer is “very attractive”, and priced about 15 percent too low – before you take into account the bonus shares.

      “The bonus share component… is very attractive, and goes some way towards mitigating some of the downside risks that could come,” he says.

      Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Genesis-shares-underpriced-say-researchers/tabid/421/articleID/338101/Default.aspx#ixzz2xlMnSLAc

      Of course Mr English has now, it appears, learned not to trust “forecasts…

      Asked whether the price was set too low, Finance Minister Bill English says they’re just forecasts.

      “As we know from the previous floats, sometimes they turn out to be right, sometimes they turn out to be wrong.

    • Blue 3.2

      The asset sales program undertaken by this Government has been widely acknowledged as a failure.

      Do you feel any sense of responsibility, Wayne?

      • Tracey 3.2.1

        let me answer that for you Blue.

        They would have been a success if Labour and the greens had not announced a desire to alter the electricity sector if elected. Although national could have chosen to NOT sell on that basis, it instead chose to sell for less. of course the 5 reports which state that Genesis sale price is undervalued has only Craig Investments directly stating that this political policy has impacted price… One even describes the impact as “minor.”

        Selling 3-4 companies in the same sector doing the same business is a master stroke and there are probably dozens of examples in the world where this has happened and they have all failed to do as well as some forecast…. oh wait…no, no one else has ever done this before… oh wait

    • thatguynz 3.3

      You may choose to make light of it Wayne but simply put you and your cronies are traitors and should be treated accordingly. You are blindly following a failed ideology that ultimately does not benefit the vast majority of New Zealanders yet you still have a forlorn belief that you are on the right path and that eventually trickle-down economics will work.

      Wake up and smell the insanity.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.3.1

        +1

      • Wayne 3.3.2

        Well, I guess the voters get to make that judgement in less than 6 months. And they will know the choice before them.

        Either a market based approach favored by the Nats (although a pretty moderate version thereof). Or a much more interventionist approach favored by the Left. Though I have my doubts that David Cunliffe has really turned his back on the last thirty years. He does not sound like he will end the “neoliberal experiment” and take New Zealand down a South Pacific Chavaista revolution!

        • Tracey 3.3.2.1

          I don’t believe Cunliffe has either Wayne. Just as I believe the Nats distort and manipulate the information to make a genuine choice quite difficult.

          But it also appears it is no longer National versus Labour. It is National versus Labour and the Greens.

          is it interventionist to hold onto assets owned by the people?

          What did you make of the 4 reports last week that said at 1.63 the genesis offering is very undervalued, with their estimates ranging to 1.60 to 1.97?

          What interest me is that if you buy now, and then vote for national craigs suggests the value could reach 1.95…

          ” Genesis Energy shares have been valued at $1.63 per share, near the top of the price range of $1.35 to $1.65, according to a report by Craigs Investment Partners.

          The shares could also be worth 10 cents per share more because of the potential for windfall gains in dry years, the report says.”

          and then

          “Research company Edison says Genesis has a fair value range of $1.79 and $1.97. The upper limit is 27 percent more than the price the Government is asking. Edison’s mid-point valuation is $1.88, a 21.3 percent premium to the offer price.

          “We think it’s the most attractive of the offerings so far by the Government. The main draw to that is the yield that’s being offered, which we see as the strongest,” says analyst Tim Heeley.

          On current polling, Mr Heeley says the risk of the shares losing their value if Labour and the Greens form a government later this year is “minor”.

          Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Genesis-shares-underpriced-say-researchers/tabid/421/articleID/338101/Default.aspx#ixzz2xlMZlfwu

          “Woodward Partners’s John Kidd says the offer is “very attractive”, and priced about 15 percent too low – before you take into account the bonus shares.

          “The bonus share component… is very attractive, and goes some way towards mitigating some of the downside risks that could come,” he says.

          Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/Genesis-shares-underpriced-say-researchers/tabid/421/articleID/338101/Default.aspx#ixzz2xlMnSLAc

          Of course Mr English has now, it appears, learned not to trust “forecasts…

          Asked whether the price was set too low, Finance Minister Bill English says they’re just forecasts.

          “As we know from the previous floats, sometimes they turn out to be right, sometimes they turn out to be wrong.

        • thatguynz 3.3.2.2

          Clayton’s choice really. While I may prefer those parties that loosely identify themselves as “being on the left” to Key/Whyte/Dunne/Flavell I have seen nothing to suggest that the current Labour offering is anything other than National-lite which is regrettable. Your summation of “market based” vs. “interventionist” is both simplistic and factually incomplete.

          Until such time as a party/coalition stands up and promotes the realisation that economically “there are real alternatives”, we will continue to dance on the head of a pin and make cosmetic changes at best that will do little to improve the common lot. Meanwhile the global financial ponzi scheme marches on unopposed.

        • Ennui 3.3.2.3

          Wayne, take New Zealand down a South Pacific Chavaista revolution! That’s dreadfully Manichean imagery is it not? Does this betray a mindset that only sees binary good and bad, black and white? Was your Cabinet so bereft of ideas and alternate concepts?

          I have been saying all along that the whole idea of asset sales was never to make money from them, that actually it would suit the purchasers (who no doubt would be core National party funders and voters) to buy at a low price. How do you say to that?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.4

      Well Wayne, consider what happened last time we tried feudalism.

      • Tracey 3.4.1

        I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a Law Commissioner who can’t answer questions put to him, or deliberately avoids questions which are hard or unpalatable or betray something else?

        • Wayne 3.4.1.1

          Tracey,

          As you might expect, given my role, I try to address issues at a general level. People know I am an ex National Cabinet Minister, and therefore know my general political perspective. And that is where I like to keep it.

          That means I do not answer specific questions such as you have posed, which you will note that I have avoided whenever you pose them.

          However, I am quite prepared to discuss specific issues on something like TPP, which in any event I don’t see as a strictly party political issue. And it is a specific interest I have.

          As you know, I have done some writing for CSIS, a research organization in Washington DC, and for the Rajaratnam school of International Studies in Singapore. In both cases the general tenor of my work has been the change in the balance of power in the Asia Pacific, specifically as it affects New Zealand. And of course TPP is part of that, although my specific interest is the military balance in the region.

          The CSIS item should come out soon(ish), since they are doing page proofs.

  4. Clemgeopin 4

    “but I’m sure their donors and cronies will be happy with the free gift of public wealth”

    “When governments in the developing world sell public assets to cronies at bargain-basement prices, we call it what it is: corruption and theft”

    Well said.

  5. Tracey 5

    no mention of “mums and dads” anymore when this sale is spoken of by Key and English… That lie has died, along with “brighter future”

    • Weepu's beard 5.1

      It will be an interesting exercise finding out what proportion of future dividends from these three companies will be paid offshore.

  6. Populuxe1 6

    So does putting certain resources into the private ownership of iwi count as theft?

    • Tracey 6.1

      No, because the resources that were stolen from them are no longer available for return.

      • Richard McGrath 6.1.1

        But does that justify the “theft” of resources from others in order to compensate iwi?

        • McFlock 6.1.1.1

          You can’t on-sell stolen property and expect the new “ownership” to be valid.

  7. Penny Bright 7

    And so is privatisation via Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) – which pro-corporate Auckland Mayor Len Brown supports.

    When are Labour going to state their policy OPPOSING privatisation via Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)?

    When are Labour going to cut whatever ties they have to pro-corporate Auckland Mayor Len Brown?

    Anyone else asking these HARD questions?

    If not – why not?

    Auckland is where NZ general elections tend to be won or lost, and in my considered opinion, there will be a significant number of the voting public interested in Labour’s replies to these questions.

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption / anti-privatisation Public Watchdog’

  8. Richard McGrath 8

    I wonder whether NRT, or anyone here, thinks private property per se is “theft”.

    • McFlock 8.1

      I’m sure someone might, but it’s somewhat irrelevant to the topic. It’s a broad group here, we even have a few randian super heroes and other wing-nuts. Why not a maoist or two?

      • Richard McGrath 8.1.1

        It’s not completely irrelevant. I’m trying to ascertain if anyone believes as Proudhon claimed that “(all) property is theft” as the rationale for claiming that privatisation of state assets is theft.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      Depends upon the “private property”. Your car, your jewelry – that’s yours.

      Land cannot be removed from the commons though as the pollution of our waterways proves. This indicates that it cannot be “private property”. Land ownership needs to be shifted to a lease system because of this.

      Your car is driven within public space and affects others and so you can’t do whatever you like with it even though it is yours.

      Basically, private property ends as soon as actions upon it or through it affect anyone else.

      But the real question is: How did the “private property” get into private hands? National’s selling of our state assets against our wishes was, as a matter of fact, theft (really, try selling your neighbours car without his permission and see who’s side the law takes). The only thing that’s stopping us putting the entire National, Act and UF parties in jail is the fact that, ATM, they get to write the laws.

      • Richard McGrath 8.2.1

        There are common law solutions to waterways pollution, and technology will assist in making guilty parties accountable for harm done to others. This can occur via mediation or through the law courts.

        I agree with you that the owners of roads enter into a contract with those who use it. I don’t however believe the government has to own all the roads. There are plenty of private roads where the owners contribute to upkeep and decide on the level of use. Perhaps a compromise would be where the state could own arterial routes and smaller roads could be privately owned and tolled or otherwise funded accordingly.

        Land “ownership” is really indefinite utilisation of the land surface for building, etc. But it is transferable to the next “owner”.

        Not sure what you mean by “private property ends” – do you mean the legitimate use of private property ends (when others are adversely affected)?

        As far as your assertion that privatisation of assets is wrong, what then constitutes a non-privatisable state asset? If there is state housing, should all housing be nationalised? If the state own motor vehicles, should all motor vehicles be nationalised?

        “How did private property get into private hands?” Some would say that a person using their labour to cultivate, graze, build on or otherwise transform a discrete parcel of previously unowned land makes that land theirs.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.2.1.1

          There are common law solutions to waterways pollution, and technology will assist in making guilty parties accountable for harm done to others.

          Which aren’t being applied thus making them useless and not actually there in reality.

          I agree with you that the owners of roads enter into a contract with those who use it.

          It’s not a contract but a physical reality with moral obligations.

          Perhaps a compromise would be where the state could own arterial routes and smaller roads could be privately owned and tolled or otherwise funded accordingly.

          Well, I suppose that’d be one way to cut back on roading. Throughout recorded history the private sector have been real bad at providing what the community needs and that’s still true today.

          Not sure what you mean by “private property ends” – do you mean the legitimate use of private property ends (when others are adversely affected)?

          I didn’t say anything about adversely affected. And, no, I don’t mean that. I mean that property where the public have a say in its use inherently belongs to the public and not to an individual.

          “How did private property get into private hands?” Some would say that a person using their labour to cultivate, graze, build on or otherwise transform a discrete parcel of previously unowned land makes that land theirs.

          Which is a load of bollocks. It was always taken through force of arms.

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