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Who really benefits from asset sales

Written By: - Date published: 4:35 pm, November 12th, 2011 - 25 comments
Categories: capitalism, privatisation - Tags: ,

Brent Sheather assesses the case for asset sales in today’s Herald. He cuts through the crap and concludes “selling the SOEs doesn’t look all that clever, particularly from the perspective of young people and those other sectors of society who won’t be able to participate in the offers in any material way. This is likely to be at least half the population.” He looks at who really benefits, and it’s the fortunate few once again.

On the economics, Sheather writes:

the Government is proposing to sell assets producing returns of at least 6 to 7 per cent a year after tax plus growth, when it could issue debt costing just 4 to 4.4 per cent. On the face of it, this doesn’t look particularly bright, does it?

On who benefits:

But don’t expect too much negative comment, because many people stand to benefit from these transactions. The management and/or directors of the privatised companies will be looking for share options that will massively reward them if the companies do well. Investment bankers, brokers, solicitors and financial advisers will all get to clip the ticket as the initial transactions occur, and then have another go when Mum and Dad ultimately sell their shares.

That’s if Mum and Dad get any to sell – and on this Sheather says:

Then there is the issue of who the assets will be sold to. I remember not being able to get anywhere near enough Auckland Airport shares for my retail clients. However, one wealthy client who also dealt with a major American stock-broking firm that didn’t even have an office in New Zealand was able to get 100,000 shares through the US firm. So not only was Auckland Airport sold cheaply but, to make matters worse, it appears overseas brokers got large allocations of stock and many New Zealand retail investors missed out.

Once again the best political reporting is buried in the back of the Business pages.

25 comments on “Who really benefits from asset sales ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    It’s a good article that clearly shows that selling the assets bring no benefit to the majority who presently own them but plenty of rentier returns to the minority who will end up owning them if they’re sold.

  2. Now the poll I want to see is in two parts:
    Do you belong to one of the four power company providers that National want to turn into a mixed ownership model?

    Will you switch your power company provider were National to win the election on 26 November 2011?

    Yes and yes is my answer.

    The contract I have is with the power provider owning 100% of the asset not 51% which will dwindle down to 0% ownership and lose money due to legal fees over arguing about not getting enough profit.

    Note: I did not name the power companies in the poll question.

  3. fender 3

    It’s just the 1%ers who get any advantage from asset theft. Why invest in risky shares when you can hide your gold in a stable cash cow like utilities. Just another step in their progress towards owning the world and everything taxpayers have worked to build.
    We were originally told this was nesessary to pay off debt, now we are told its to paint schools and shout farmers irrigation so they can increase damage to the environment.
    I believe these crooked “leaders” dont have NZ’s best interest at heart, but what I cant believe is so many of the population cant or wont see the damage these “leaders” are doing. It’s treason but according to polls 50% of the country are happy for treason to take place..WTF?

    • Treetop 3.1

      1) I wonder if 50% of the country are happy to see people change who their power company provider is?

      2) Has English not considered what a boycott would do when it came to a dividen payment or the power companies being less attractive due to less consumers for new share holders?

      3) Sale of high performing assets need a mandate and who you vote for should not be indicative of agreeing with the sale of high performing power company providers.

      3.1) Are Nact voters really that dumb when it comes to giving National a mandate to run the country into the ground further by selling off 49% of four power companies and shares in Air NZ?

      • Carol 3.1.1

        Actually, it looks to me like the latest polls indicate a shift towards less than 50% of people wanting asset sales. This maybe part of the reason why National’s vote share is declining, and there’s a rise in people saying they’ll vote for other small right wing parties like NZ First.

        And if National and other parties that support asset sales do get less than 50% of the votes, they surely cannot claim to have a mandate to privatise?

      • Uturn 3.1.2

        If state owned enterprises were like houses, the 50% of the nation that don’t vote National would put a caveat on them. Then you’d hear some squealing about unfairness. White Collar Bullies don’t like it when the rules they use to oppress their victims are enforced to control their greed.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        3.1) Are Nact voters really that dumb when it comes to giving National a mandate to run the country into the ground further by selling off 49% of four power companies and shares in Air NZ?

        Act are the original party that sold state assets and they really do want to sell all the rest of them all off as well.

    • mike 3.2

      Naivety? Ignorance? Cognitive dissonance? Why is it hard to believe?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_manipulation (worth a look)

      “George K. Simon identified the following manipulative techniques:

      Lying: It is hard to tell if somebody is lying at the time they do it although often the truth may be apparent later when it is too late. One way to minimize the chances of being lied to is to understand that some personality types (particularly psychopaths) are experts at the art of lying and cheating, doing it frequently, and often in subtle ways.

      Lying by omission: This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.

      Denial: Manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.

      Rationalization: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. Rationalization is closely related to spin.

      Minimization: This is a type of denial coupled with rationalization. The manipulator asserts that his or her behavior is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting.”

      Politicians use all these techniques of course, but against a sociopath like Key it’s like an amateur vs a pro. Lying is a complex skill with many facets, most people don’t get that – which is very convenient for lairs. Skilled liars realize that there are three parts to a lie – the content of the lie, the liar, and the victim. And they understand implicitly the relationship between those three parts.

    • Hami Shearlie 3.3

      That’s so true Fender! WTF indeed! Some of the problem is total ignorance, e.g. the woman on “The Nation” who was going to vote Labour but then “he(JK) touched me, so now it’s National”! (I really WTFed when I saw that). And some is personal greed. Long ago a tv documentary stated if you wanted to find the perpetrator of crime or anything else, just ask yourself “who benefits” and there you will find the guilty party? Well, we don’t have to wonder about that do we? The rich friends of the Nats will be the ones buying the shares, and no doubt cabinet ministers too! So of course, OUR assets must be sold for THEM to make a tidy profit! I’ve asked myself many times who profited from Don Brash’s leaked emails? Well JK and Steven Joyce do seem to be sitting pretty since then don’t they?

    • Hami Shearlie 3.4

      Why is it that the greediest and meanest people one meets are the very wealthy? Don’t wish to generalise, it’s just what I have experienced!

      • mike 3.4.1

        Why is it that fat people are very heavy?

      • Maggie May 3.4.2

        I do think you gereralise when you speak of all wealthy people. After working a trade I always found there were two distinct groups, old money and new money.

        Old money were always excellent to work for they appreciated your efforts and were happy to pay on time.
        It was always the new money who were the least impressive in attitude, appreciation of your labour and in their willingness to pay on time.

        • Hami Shearlie

          This could be true MM! Have to ask the greedies and meanies where they got their dough next time!

        • Uturn

          I agree on the new money generalisation, but remember than old money was once new, too. The bare-faced arrogance of new money is easy to experience and reject. It usually takes more time to realise old money has had it long enough to have paid for some skeletons, literally. By then you’ve learned that the old money is human, just like anyone else, and the grey area of forgiveness and time healing all wounds comes into play. But the skeleton cannot be ignored.

          Sometimes the skeletons of old money litter continents. But the loss is so large and the betrayal so huge we redefine it as History – quaint, glorified, heroic. The memory of it enters our culture and joins our own losses and suddenly we can’t seperate the things we believe as virtuous from the lies of old money. To condemn the old money, we’d have to condemn ourselves. Round and round it goes…

  4. “And if National and other parties that support asset sales do get less than 50% of the votes, they surely cannot claim to have a mandate to privatise?”

    As long as National can form a coalition they will take this as being a mandate to privatise.

    Murky Key as he has not said a 50% figure.

  5. giovani 5

    All nationals plans are bad for everyone but the rich.

    don’t let them do it to us vote them out.

  6. logie97 6

    A few questions:
    For example,
    – When was Auckland Airport Sold?
    – Where were the politicians who are advocating the sale of the energy assets
    when previous fire-sales were happening?
    – Were any of them working in the USA?
    – Did any of them have connections with U.S. stockbrokers?
    – Is it possible to establish previous registries of shareholders in all of the previously-state owned assets?
    – Are any of them current members of parliament?
    Do we know of any prominent current or former shareholders in Tranzrail for one?

  7. Bored 7

    Asset sales reflect the total bollocks that is the NZSX…we will probably hear Shonkey and his “business” mates say that the money made by partial sale can be reinvested in productive enterprise….which begs the question: why the hell not invest directly into production?

    The answer is obvious. The money wants safe haven, no risk. As a means of raising capital and trading shares in productive assets the NZSX has been a complete farce and failure. The only way they can see to expand is by grabbing the states silver and trading it.

  8. Brent Shearer will be hanged as a class traitor by the Key-Brash government.

  9. In Vino Veritas 9

    I’m not sure I’d trust Brent Sheather with my money if this is his analysis. I have previously directed contributors on this blog to the late Roger Kerr’s series on privatisation (on his blog) and perhaps Brent should read this as well.

    • felix 9.1

      It surprises me that you think kiwis could possibly be unfamiliar with the late Roger Kerr’s views on privatisation when he did nothing but shout them from the rooftops for twenty odd years.

      Has it occurred to you that we simply don’t agree with him?

      • In Vino Veritas 9.1.1

        Felix, whether or not you “agree with him”, his financial analysis of privatisation appears to me to be accurate. If it is accurate, it debunks most of the rebuttals to privatisation that the Labour Party and Brent Sheather have put forward. This implies that the current feeling towards asset sales in NZ is driven purely because of propaganda, with the Labour Party (along with left leaning “academics”) leading the way, releasing only those arguments which appear to prove their point.

        For arguments sake, just because you didnt say, agree with Albert Einsteins views, does that mean that you wouldnt agree with his theory of relativity?

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