web analytics


Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, March 7th, 2008 - 21 comments
Categories: economy, Media - Tags: ,

journalist.jpgThe two major dailies have been running bizarre editorial lines against the government’s intervention to block the sale of Auckland Airport, even as their letters columns fill up with people supporting the move.

The Herald called it ‘xenophobia’. Of course, the Herald would know a bit about xenophobia having enthusiastically supported the anti-Asian campaigns by New Zealand First and others in the mid-1990s. But since when has it been xenophobic to ensure that a vital piece of New Zealand infrastructure is run in New Zealand’s wider economic interest and protect it from asset-strippers?

The Dompost goes so far as to argue that asset-stripping is impossible: ‘it’s not like they can take the airport to Canada, ha, ha, ha’

Of course, you don’t need to move an asset to strip it of its value. For instance, you could be one of two foreign media empires that buys up all of New Zealand’s print media (under the approving gaze of National). Then, you could cut journalist jobs left, right, and centre, refuse to raise wages, out-source sub-editing, increase the amount of space taken by ads, cut out investigative journalism, force the journos you have left to churn out half a dozen stories a day, and generally run the country’s newspapers into the ground, all the while extracting as much profit as possible.

So, maybe we can’t expect better from the Herald and the Dompost editorials. After all, they themselves have been comprehensively asset-stripped by foreign owners over the last decade.

[Ed note: This story was posted yesterday but fell off the front page for some reason. Bumping it back up now to give it a decent run]

21 comments on “Stripped ”

  1. Phil 1

    “Of course, you don’t need to move an asset to strip it of its value.”

    What you forgot to add is that you don’t even need to be FOREIGN to strip an asset of it’s value. The argument that foreign owners will bleed AIA ignores that it already had private owners, who have exactly the same incentives as any other private owner foreign, domestic, or otherwise, of an airport.

    This actions of Cullen et al are a reactionary political move bourne out of populist desire. Nothing more, nothing less.

  2. gobsmacked 2

    Much as I dislike the Herald today, this comment is not correct:

    “… the Herald would know a bit about xenophobia having enthusiastically supported the anti-Asian campaigns by New Zealand First and others in the mid-1990s.”

    The Herald did not support Peters’ campaign at that time.

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    I know you don’t need to be overseas to be an asset stripper, I’m rebutting the Domposts’ line that you cna’t even asset strip if you are a foreigner.

    However, foreign owners are more likely to asset strip. Their senior people have no personal connection with the country, the bulk of their operations are offshroe so they don’t hurt if NZ hurts, and they are more likely to repsond to international financial imperatives than New Zealand conditions.

  4. Steve Pierson 4

    gobsmacked. That could be correct in that they didn’t campaign to reduce Asian immigration directly, I remember all the sensationalist articles about ‘asian crime waves’ though.

  5. insider 5


    Business has little concern beyond earning a return. Your naive faith that local companies would have less compunction to “asset strip” is not borne out by the many US companies that have asset stripped their local operations and relocated to Bombay or SHanghai, or Fisher and Paykel, Sleepyhead and numerous others who have asset stripped their NZ businesses for similar motives.

  6. Steve Pierson 6

    Again, I’m not arguing that NZ companies don’t asset strip, I’m arguing that foreign companies have a bad record of asset stripping. It was the Herald and Dompost who were arguing that asset-stripping doesn’t happen.

  7. insider 7

    By saying they have a bad record you are saying it is worse than NZ owned ones, yet where is the evidence of that? Very few NZ companies are globalised so don’t have the opportunity a foreign investor has, so naturally foreign investors may appear ‘worse’.

  8. Matthew Pilott 8

    Phil, I guess the notion is that private New Zealand inverstors are unlikely to do anything to reduce the effectiveness of their main international airport. New Zealanders, pretty much without exception, require a functioning international airport.

    A Canadian corporation doesn’t to the same extent, so the imperative isn’t there to maintain function over profit.

    That’s also relevant to your comment, insider. It doesn’t matter what New Zealand investors do overseas in this case – you don’t shit in your own backyard, so to speak!

    Regarding your point about asset stripping in the US followed by relocation – that’s not viable with an airport (you can asset strip it, but not for the purposes of relocation.)

    CAP: automobile no (hear hear! 🙂

  9. insider 9


    Where is the logic in spending top dollar for an asset and then deliberately running it down jus cos you are Canadian? Most businesses recognise they need to invest in their assets to maintain or improve returns no matter where they come from, unless they can’t improve returns by doing so.

  10. Steve Pierson 10

    insider. that last comment argues that asset-stripping doesn’t exist.

  11. insider 11


    That’s a whole other argument…but read the comment more carefully – it is comparing the logic of different motivations for foreign v local owners

  12. Matthew Pilott 12

    insider – it’s nothing to do with being Canadian, and it’s pretty clear that’s not what anyone means. If any party doesn’t have a vested interest in the functioning of an asset, they can milk it for what it’s worth. Once done, If that asset is vital to a country, you can pretty guarantee you’ll get top dollar from the government to buy it back.

    This is what concerns people, with regards to critical infrastructure.

  13. Draco TB 13

    Where is the logic in spending top dollar for an asset and then deliberately running it down jus cos you are Canadian? Most businesses recognise they need to invest in their assets to maintain or improve returns no matter where they come from, unless they can’t improve returns by doing so.

    You mean, just like all the other monopolies we sold to overseas ‘investors’?

  14. insider 14


    You present Canadian investors as having no interest in an assets value and NZ investors as somehow motivated differently and collectively just because they are NZers and see some different intrinsic value in the asset. Yet those same NZ investors are signing up in droves to sell their shares to the Canucks. I think you are projecting your values onto NZ investors with no real evidence.

  15. Steve Pierson 15

    Insider. Last I saw, the Canadians are well short of the number of shares they need and there’s lees than a week to go.

    Again. Asset-stripping happens (it happened to the Herald and the Dompost, whose staffs have been slashed, hell the dompost used to be two papers) and foreign investors are more likely to asset strip than domestic ones, and our strategic assets have been stripped by foreign investors in the past.

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    Insider – I am speaking from a theoretical standpoint that has been realised in other instances.

    Your last comment isn’t right, because you’re talking about New Zealanders selling shares – not talking about operational policy when in control of the asset. Ask yourself – if people believed that an overseas interest would act to negatively impact AIA for profit, would they sell? Would they still do so, if they knew that their taxes may be required to bail out said asset in future…

    As said – New Zealanders are more likely to protect their vital assets. Those with no vested interests aren’t as likely to do so. Those selling shares may not believe something such as is being discussed will occur, or don’t care in which case you’re getting onto the argument for public ownership again.

    However I accept your point here regarding New Zealand shareholders – no one has perfect information and people can be motivated by short-term gain, even at the expense of future income. This, to me, further reinforces the need tor government intervention and explains why such regulations are common overseas…

  17. insider 17


    The reason INL “stripped” the Dom and Evening Post is because NZ readers stripped it of circulation and revenue. So who is the asset stripper there?

    I think there is a very interesting debate to be had as to what asset stripping is because I think you are using it in a very emotive way and it could just be a response to market conditions that would be done by any rational owner.

    Matthew I don’t agree NZers are more likely to protect their vital assets. I accept that NZ politicians are likely to get up in arms and create issues in election year…

    Contact has successfully owned and operated power stations in NZ and is even building more, as well as shutting others down. It is majority owned by aussies and before that by yanks. WHere is the worry about that? have any of the dire predictions come to pass?

  18. Santi 18

    Labour is honouring its pact with the mendacious Winston Peters. This bout of xenophobia will be another nail in the coffin of the socialists come election time.

    NZ should be selling these assets to the highest bidder instead of buying them back.

    Are the Canadians going to pack Auckland Airport and ship it overseas? Will Toll do likewise?

    The socialist’s aversion to foreign investment is there for all to see. Excuses, excuses.

  19. Steve Pierson 19

    Santi. Repeating the Dompost’s stupid line that is already addressed in the post is a pretty stupid contribution.

  20. Ari 20

    Insider: Newspaper readership is going down internationally as well- probably due to the internet. Comparatively, the Evening Post lasted quite a long time, as most evening papers had either gone bust or switched over to morning papers quite a while ago.

    That said, I absolutely agree that it’s quite possible for foreign investors to be a bit more shortsighted with their investments and want to extract immediate profits rather than keep them running well in the long-term, as they won’t be as bad off as locals if they run down the business then cut their losses and move their money into a new short-term investment.

    Classifying all foreign investors that way is stupid, I agree, BUT there is much more incentive to take this kind of attitude with foreign strategic assets like railway networks, airports, telecommunication companies, etc… because there is always the hope of lucrative government buyouts on top of short-term profit. If Labour was being REALLY xenophobic, they’d simply seize the international shares for themselves. 😉 Blocking large sales to a major international stakeholder isn’t anywhere near the same thing.

  21. insider 21


    “BUT there is much more incentive to take this kind of attitude with foreign strategic assets like railway networks, airports, telecommunication companies, etc because there is always the hope of lucrative government buyouts on top of short-term profit.”

    Surely using that argument a local company would have much more incentive to run an asset down, as they would be better better positioned to plead poverty and being local should be better connected to make a case?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • COVID-19 vaccine slated for possible approval next week
    The green light for New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine could be granted in just over a week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today. “We’re making swift progress towards vaccinating New Zealanders against the virus, but we’re also absolutely committed to ensuring the vaccines are safe and effective,” Jacinda Ardern said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • New ACC Board members announced.
    The Minister for ACC is pleased to announce the appointment of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February 2021. “All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni. Bella Takiari-Brame from Hamilton ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Economic boost for Southland marae
    The Government is investing $9 million to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs, Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene have announced.  The grant for Waihƍpai RĆ«naka Inc to make improvements to Murihiku Marae comes from the $3 billion set ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
    [Opening comments, welcome and thank you to Auckland University etc] It is a great pleasure to be here this afternoon to celebrate such an historic occasion - the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a moment many feared would never come, but ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
    The Government is providing $3 million in one-off seed funding to help disabled people around New Zealand stay connected and access support in their communities, Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The funding will allow disability service providers to develop digital and community-based solutions over the next two ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Voluntary saliva testing offered to quarantine workers from Monday
    Border workers in quarantine facilities will be offered voluntary daily COVID-19 saliva tests in addition to their regular weekly testing, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. This additional option will be rolled out at the Jet Park Quarantine facility in Auckland starting on Monday 25 January, and then to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Next steps in firearms buy-back
    The next steps in the Government’s ambitious firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced by Police Minister Poto Williams today.  “The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5,630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
    Upscaling work already underway to restore two iconic ecosystems will deliver jobs and a lasting legacy, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.  “The Jobs for Nature programme provides $1.25 billion over four years to offer employment opportunities for people whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 recession. “Two new projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Public Housing Plan announced
    The Government has released its Public Housing Plan 2021-2024 which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020, will go. “The Government is committed to continuing its public house build programme at pace and scale. The extra 8,000 homes – 6000 public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister congratulates President Joe Biden on his inauguration
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated President Joe Biden on his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America. “I look forward to building a close relationship with President Biden and working with him on issues that matter to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Jobs for Nature funding will create training and employment opportunities
    A major investment to tackle wilding pines in Mt Richmond will create jobs and help protect the area’s unique ecosystems, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says. The Mt Richmond Forest Park has unique ecosystems developed on mineral-rich geology, including taonga plant species found nowhere else in the country. “These special plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pre-departure testing extended to all passengers to New Zealand
    To further protect New Zealand from COVID-19, the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bay Cadets learn skills to protect environment
    Bay Conservation Cadets launched with first intake Supported with $3.5 million grant Part of $1.245b Jobs for Nature programme to accelerate recover from Covid Cadets will learn skills to protect and enhance environment Environment Minister David Parker today welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago