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The SOE sell down three years on

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, February 7th, 2017 - 78 comments
Categories: assets, bill english, business, capitalism, class war, Economy, national, privatisation, Privatisation, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

In 2014 and 2015 I did very rough and ready calculations on what the sell off of shares in Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian and Air New Zealand conducted in 2013 and 2014 had cost us.  The calculations are simple, add up the total dividend payments that are forgone and work out the loss of capital value of the shares that were sold by comparing the sale price with the current market price.  The figures are not good and I reckon some time this year the loss on dividends and increase in value will be greater than the money achieved by the sale.

The results are:

  • Meridian paid a total dividend of 18.38c a share.  If the shares had not been sold the dividends that would be paid to the Government would total $230.7 million this year as well as $229 million last year and $163.4 million the year before.
  • Mighty River Power (now Mercury NZ Ltd) paid a total dividend of 18c a share.  Forgone dividend was $123.6 million this year, $128 million last year and $91.2 million the year before.
  • Genesis Energy paid a total dividend of 16.4c a share.  Net dividend loss is $80 million, compared to last year’s $78 million and $61.9 million the year before.
  • Air New Zealand had a really, really good year and paid total dividends of 45c a share.  Dividend loss was $99.6 million.

The total amount of dividends forgone over the three years is $1.366 billion with the amount for 2016 being $533.9 million.

And all of the shares have gone up in value.  My rough calculation is that the shares that were sold are now worth $6.995 billion compared to the Treasury figure of the share proceeds being $4.669 billion, a difference of $2.327 billion.  And the cost of the sales of the shares at $120.6 million should be taken into account.

All up loss so far,  $3.813 billion.

Of course this may all end in tears if the stock market crashes and the sale may then look like it was a good idea.  But by this Government’s rationale and its reputation as a safe pair of hands when it comes to the economy the sale process looks like an unmitigated disaster.  As many of us said it would be.

One interesting aspect of the calculations is how difficult it is to ascertain accurate figures.  My basic calculations (share price times number of shares sold) produced a result of $4.523 billion for the sale of the shares compared to the Crown figure of $4.668 billion.  Currently I cannot work out why this is.

And the proceeds?  Well they have all been spent.  So we are left with no cash, a reduced dividend flow and a bit more than half of the value of the original shares.

National has this reputation of being full of financial geniuses.  Judging by these figures the reputation is not deserved.

 

78 comments on “The SOE sell down three years on”

  1. Tamati Tautuhi 1

    Not smart Governments selling State Assets over the past 30-40 years if you did the maths on the BNZ Sale I think we as taxpayers ie the Government paid to sell the BNZ after we bailed it out. The dividends and returns from the likes of the BNZ and The Rural Bank would have far outweighed the sale prices, that money was squandered by successive Governments both National & Labour.

    The State Assets that successive Labour and National Governments sold over the last 30-40 years were built up by taxpayers taxes over the past 150 years and were stripped out of the country’s books for chickenfeed by unscrupulous politicans and the merchant banking community purely to line their own pockets. New Zealanders did not see any benefits from these State Asset Sales.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      +111

      Telecom is a great example. Better than $20 billion taken out in dividends since the sale and yet we still had to stump up a couple of billion taxpayers money to get FttH. Something that that >$20b would have put in place years ago.

  2. Mark 2

    You haven’t factored in the avoided interest repayments on the debt that would otherwise have been incurred to fund the spending.

    • lprent 2.1

      It is always nice to talk to economic illiterates.
      http://www.anz.co.nz/about-us/economic-markets-research/interest-rate-graphs/10-year-bond/

      1. Interest rates are at an all time low.
      2. The rate at which the government funds at present is effectively zero once you factor in inflation.

      It really isn’t worth calculating it even on bonds. It looks like being an average yield after inflation of maybe 0.5-1% over the last 56 years.

    • tc 2.2

      How much debt was paid off from each of the generator floats ?

      Can someone get a mini cash flow on asset sales proceeds distribution as I bet that is a fascinating piece of blinglish bookkeeping.

      • Tamati Tautuhi 2.2.1

        The debt has probably grown since the sale of the SOE’s so the sale is merely funding the increased interest payments.

        Pity the next Government, increased debt and no SOE’s left to sell off?

      • dv 2.2.2

        Current debt
        NZ$ 87,921,240,959
        Interest
        NZ$4,249,967,534 ie 4 billion per yr
        Interest per Second
        NZ$135
        Debt per Citizen
        NZ$18,797

        Debt as % of GDP
        35.38%
        GDP
        NZ$248,537,127,083
        Population
        4,677,344

    • Andre 2.3

      Go on then Mark, make the argument with the interest factored in. As a bonus, also factor in that there would have been tax paid on the private shareholder dividends.

      If you argue it really well, you might be able to spin the SOE selloff from being outrageously moronic to just fukn dumb.

      • Mark 2.3.1

        Not sure what I wrote to warrant such abuse. Or what is economically illiterate about it. The cost might be low but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And it is missing from the analysis. These are all facts and I don’t have to produce my own calculations for my comment to be accurate.

        • lprent 2.3.1.1

          I believe it might have to do with the numbers. After all finance is tormented with the little fuckers.

          Of course the benefit does exist. However if you’d gotten off your lazy arse and calculated it, you’d have found that the benefit you were referring to may have brought the odd state house if (and only if) the double dipton hadn’t sucked it up in paying for his rentals for the last couple of years. Yes the amount of money you are talking about is in that order. Calculate it and prove me wrong?

          Basically if you want to raise something, then you own it. Being a stupid whining moron doesn’t actually help your credibility. Nor does whining to another person who didn’t actually call you an “economic illiterate” as you appear to be.

          • Mark 2.3.1.1.1

            Ok. Probably best I leave. We could have had a discussion about whether the net effect of inflation e.g. the increased tax take vs the increased expenditure and the higher yield demanded by investors to offset the impact of inflation would have actually reduced the debt but I expect that I would have been kicked before too long.

            Thanks for the debate.

            • lprent 2.3.1.1.1.1

              Well if you can’t stand for your argument, then why didn’t you just say so. Grovelling when you screw up is just a learning experience.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.3.1.1.1.2

              No, it appears that we couldn’t have a discussion as you can’t back up what you said and the figures prove you wrong.

    • Conal 2.4

      It’s actually a good point, Mark! The debt servicing cost hasn’t been included in this analysis, and it should have been.

      A very rough calculation, based on a compound interest rate of 3.5% (it’s been up and down since the privatisations took place), for 3.5 years, yields a total savings of $679M. This is rough as guts, so think somewhere between $600M and $700.

      So it’s a significant fraction (a bit under 20%) of the “loss” identified of $3.8B, but it’s certainly not enough to undermine the conclusion that the privatisations were unjustifiable on financial terms.

      But there’s a bigger picture there, as other commenters have pointed out: the state has lost valuable strategic control of monopolies to corporate giants and enabled their parasitic leaching on the rest of the economy. In my opinion that’s a much more serious loss.

      PS lprent why do you immediately resort to abuse? Mark’s comment that the costs of debt servicing had been omitted was a reasonable one, and your calling him “illiterate”, “lazy” and a “stupid whining moron” was childish and unconstructive.

  3. tc 3

    National are geniuses at transferring public money into private hands including a gilt edged annual dividend and/or income stream in the case of education, health etc.

    Always a bad deal for the ordinary kiwi so can the opposition please manufacture discontent over this and the many other cameos of snake oil bs and get rid of them pleeease….

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      National are geniuses at transferring public money into private hands including a gilt edged annual dividend and/or income stream in the case of education, health etc.

      QFT

  4. bwaghorn 4

    It’s a piss poor farmer that sells his back paddock to enjoy some short term spend up.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      That’s true.

      So, why does the government, local and central, keep selling land you reckon?

  5. saveNZ 5

    National has this reputation of being full of financial geniuses – By who??? – the are and have always been the economic yokels of NZ!

    Everything they do is incompetent from a long term financial point of view. It is done to enrich themselves and their cronies or out of laziness and stupidity.

  6. saveNZ 6

    Also with the State houses sell offs, when does financial mismanagement fall into fraud and should be investigated and prosecuted as such.

    I hope the next government goes back and looks into every transaction of state sell offs and prosecuted those sellers and buyers accordingly.

  7. shorts 7

    I don’t care that much about the lost “income”, as thats a game of numbers and ideology in itself….. as in SOE’s returning profit to the state as opposed to providing a service at a affordable rate to the people (its owners) – as creep/leap of the cost of power shows

    I do care about New Zealander’s retaining ownership of vital infrastructure that we paid for and be it Labour or National, I’ll oppose both when it comes to our assets being flogged off

  8. Sorrwerdna 8

    Had the Labour/Greens not sabotaged the initial share float then the original proceeds from the sale would have been much higher and the increase in value to today much lower. Thanks to Labour/Greens I secured shares in all the assets at a much lower rate than anticipated. I am not a greedy capitalistic pig you all despise but just a hard working “mum & dad investor”.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      I very much hope that the next pro-New Zealand government takes our property back without compensating you, so as to “sabotage” any future thefts.

      They won’t, which is a real shame. Tory scum only respect force.

      Why should we lose money for your precious investment portfolio.

    • AB 8.2

      I saw someone trying to get into the neighbour’s house the other day to take the telly, laptop and a mobile. I ‘sabotaged’ it by calling the cops.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      What a load of codswallop. Even if the sale price had been higher the figures would now be the same. The country going backwards while greedy psychopaths cause all sorts of harm to society by their greed.

  9. Tamati Tautuhi 9

    State Asset Sales have been one big con job?

    • Barfly 9.1

      Always were, always will be and they are not finished yet. The idea of compulsory buy back at a calculated price so that the buyer’s only received nominal use of funds on their original purchase is a damn pleasant daydream. What is Winston’s position?

  10. Sacha 10

    Bill English admitted to a business audience several years ago – after his government changing their public story many times about the reason for these sales – that it was actually to prove to ratings agencies that the NZ government could get public support to sell the silverware if necessary to pay off our huge overseas debt. That’s why they signalled it so far ahead. That’s why they only sold half.

    Just another part of the gigantic confidence act that has allowed our current bankster govt to borrow heavily against now-financialised state assets like our ACC and Cullen funds, our roads, our hospitals, everything.

    All the earlier waffle about building schools or avoiding more debt is just a distraction. And it worked for as long as it needed to, politically. Someone is off to their next global job, and his successors will no doubt be looked after as needed.

    What will happen when the debt gets called in though, eh?

  11. KJT 11

    All competent business people know that you get rich, and stay rich, by owning income producing assets.

    They also know that applies to countries.

    However they cannot resist the temptation, when in Government, to add tax payers assets to their private portfolio, or that of the people who will pay them after politics.

    If that is not corruption, what is?

    • Antoine 11.1

      > However they cannot resist the temptation, when in Government, to add tax payers assets to their private portfolio, or that of the people who will pay them after politics.

      Waitaminute, are you saying that National ministers personally bought up the SOEs? Or if not, who are the shadowy entities who they sold the SOEs to, in return for some personal financial gain?

      > If that is not corruption, what is?

      Fiction?

      A.

      • KJT 11.1.1

        Look up the list of directorships, now and in the past occupied by former Government ministers.

        • Antoine 11.1.1.1

          But how could the Government ensure that the SOEs would be bought up by a particular company, in order to win favors from that company?

          (And which company are you saying it was, anyway?)

          • KJT 11.1.1.1.1

            Rail was just one example.

          • KJT 11.1.1.1.2

            Rail was just one example.

            Bit naive, aren’t you?

            • Antoine 11.1.1.1.2.1

              Are you talking about the 1993 sale or the 2012 one?

              I don’t know about the earlier one, it was before my time, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was dodgy.

              A.

              • KJT

                1993. The consultants to the Government on the sale, made a fortune out of it, and got knighthoods.
                Proving the adage, “Steal $100, get jail, steal $million, get a knighthood.

                Also proving the stupidity of privatising essential infrastructure. If the private owners choose to run it down, asset strip it or simply fail, we have to bail them out or buy it back anyway.
                Like rail, the cost of fixing years of private asset stripping far exceeds any gains from the initial sale.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1.1.3

            Naive, or not paying attention.

            He urged supporters to “blackball” current MPs to stop them “trading on their time as MPs to build a lucrative business career”. It would show MPs “the consequences of ignoring donors”. “If donors buy into this and the next National government does not offer former ministers jobs then there will be a very clear incentive for the next crop of ministers to listen carefully to donors rather than ignoring them.

            These are not the words of some conspiracy theorist.

  12. Antoine 12

    We could contest your analysis – for example by pointing out that the dividend stream is probably higher than it would have been if the selldown had not occurred.

    However this analysis of wealth transfers between Government, investors and customers is fundamentally uninteresting. It is a zero sum game and doesn’t make the country richer or poorer in aggregate.

    The really interesting point is whether the governance of the SOEs has improved or worsened as a result of the selldown (I suspect improved, you probably think the opposite). This is where the country as a whole stands to gain or lose. Why don’t you post on that?

    A.

    • KJT 12.1

      Those dividends are money extracted in charges, private taxes, from those who have to use the services.
      Same as we all pay extra for power so that extra profits can be extracted by power company shareholders.

      Privatisation so far has equaled more cost to the public, while private shareholders extract bonanzas..

      • Antoine 12.1.1

        Private shareholders are (by and large) part of the public, so it is just a money go round.

        • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1.1

          Nope, shareholders are bludgers who parasitise off of the rest of society.

          And Piketty has proven, quite conclusively, that it’s not a money go round but a money funnel from the poor to the rich.

        • KJT 12.1.1.2

          Tax dodgers, wealth extractors and speculators who extract money from communities, without contributing, and squirrel it away. Usually in a tax haven.

          Marx used to call them rentiers. I am not a Marxist, but, Adam Smith also reckoned we should tax them, and not workers.

          A Government of rentiers, by rentiers and for rentiers is inherently corrupt.

          • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1.2.1

            Marx used to call them rentiers. I am not a Marxist, but, Adam Smith also reckoned we should tax them, and not workers.

            All the Classical economists said that rentiers were bad for the economy. Speculators used to be hung.

            And yet, what we’ve ended up with, is a rentier business model. A system where being a bludger gets far more respect and reward than being someone who actually produces value.

        • keith rosss 12.1.1.3

          they may be part of the public but that part is very low. By far and away the vast majority of NZers don’t own shares. The reason being is that shares are something that you put extra money in not money that you need to pay bills and the cost of living.That is the reality of life for most New Zealanders.

          • Antoine 12.1.1.3.1

            Lots of New Zealanders have Kiwisaver and plenty of Kiwisaver funds have SOE shares.

            Also, Google says that 200,000 odd New Zealanders hold power SOE shares directly which is quite a few.

            A.

            • Antoine 12.1.1.3.1.1

              Or is it between 1 and 2 hundred thousand. I’m not sure.

              A.

              • Draco T Bastard

                So, around 5% of the population when it used to be 100% with all of us benefiting from that ownership.

                5% is not quite a few. What it is, is SFA.

                And, no, I don’t think Kiwisaver is a great idea either as it won’t produce the result that’s needed.

                • Antoine

                  I was responding to Keith

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    And I responded to you and the figures you pulled out of your arse.

                    • Antoine

                      There was only one figure in my comment which was the number of NZs (recently) holding power SOE shares. While sketchy, it’s based on information in the media rather than coming out of any of my orifices

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      It really doesn’t actually matter as it proves that NZers have become worse off because of those asset sales.

                    • Antoine

                      Draco I am not gonna argue the asset sales with you, you don’t even believe in private ownership (as I understand it)

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Of course you won’t – it’s impossible to argue for something when the figures prove the opposite.

                      But you’ll continue on with your belief that privatisation does better even though it doesn’t. Continue on being delusional.

                      Put it this way: if you could use the figures to prove that privatisation was better I’d have to change my mind.

    • KJT 12.2

      Research shows that the private, Managerial cult model of corporate governance is deeply flawed.
      It is long been known that highly piad parachuted in Management decreases, not adds value, in the long term. The myth that a corporate, or countries performance is entirely due to , the Boss, is not challenged as it justifies the Bosses, extortionate share of the earnings.
      The real prove of the failure of the Anglo Saxon governance model was proved by the Japanese after WW2. Ironically using business theory from the USA.

      • Antoine 12.2.1

        Well, if that’s your view, then a fully SOE is probably just as bad as a partially privatised one anyway…

        A.

        • KJT 12.2.1.1

          Solid energy and the power companies, to name just two examples, are pretty good proof.

          • Antoine 12.2.1.1.1

            You think the (partly and previously fully) state-owned power companies are poorly governed?

            • KJT 12.2.1.1.1.1

              Of course.
              They are Governed to maximise management and board wages, and dividends, in the short term.

              That is the failure of the “privatisation” model.

              Essential infrastructure should be managed for the long term benefit of the country, as a whole.

            • KJT 12.2.1.1.1.2

              SOE’s were simply a prelude to privatisation, as the former service model of management, by grey cardy technical staff, was working too well to give the Government the excuse for privatisation they needed.

        • KJT 12.2.1.2

          It is not even good Capitalism, that private owners can make a fortune simply by buying near monopolies, with captive markets, developed by the State.
          Investors should start and innovate new business.

  13. keith rosss 13

    As far as the sell off of our vital infrastructure for pennies, the majority of the country who paid for these assets through high taxes in the eighty’s did not have any spare money to invest in the shares. the majority of this country lives paycheck to paycheck.
    A real ,for the people govt, would of given the shares equally to each and every New Zealander for free as they had already been paid for by the likes of me and the other workers. This is still not a great idea but is far bettor than selling them to the rich only. We all pay for it now,well actually the poorer you are the more that you pay as a % of your income for the power that you use.We now pay some of the highest prices in the western world even though most of it is renewable and low cost to operate. (hydro ect) Ya the rich win again!

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