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You pays your money & you takes your chances

Written By: - Date published: 10:53 am, March 9th, 2013 - 96 comments
Categories: capitalism, energy, privatisation - Tags:

Some analysts are talking about risks of investing in Mighty River Power in the media today. Weather, electricity demand, overseas expansion. I’ll tell you what would make me think twice if I was contemplating buying shares (like most Kiwis I couldn’t afford to even if I wanted to).

Everyone acknowledges the power companies over charge because of the way National set up the system with the Bradford reforms. Right now, the government has 400m reasons a year not to do anything about it. After the sales, that will be $200m in dividends.

Any reforms to lower power prices will fall mainly* on a relatively small number of (often overseas) private shareholders and much less on the government books. That rather reduces the government’s incentive to protect the over-charging status quo, doesn’t it? Lots of votes in being the government to bring down power prices, especially when a lot of the profits are otherwise going to foreign corporates.

You would essentially be buying into an industry

  • that has a history of strong government regulatory intervention,
  • that is making super-profits at the moment because the government made it that way,
  • that continues to do so with the government’s tacit consent because it earns the government a lot of money,
  • at the same time as the incentive for the government to let that situation continue will be reduced by half,
  • and at the same the political argument to do something to power prices will become much stronger.

Good luck with that.

*with 30% of the market already private, it’ll be 65% after the sales

96 comments on “You pays your money & you takes your chances”

  1. pollywog 1

    Oh but as long as Key is relaxed about it, we should be too…

    The wolf isn’t concerned with the opinions of sheep!

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Come on Labour. Get off the mediocrity of the political centre, and announce that you will reacquire the shares at cost, compulsarily over time, with no interest or costs paid.

    And that you will fund the move by a special levy on the top 5%.

    • Alanz 2.1

      If the Centre is a delightfully comfortable place for political slumber, then David Snorer and his deafening silence is occupying very very good space.

    • tc 2.2

      Go all the way and renationalise the entire system, the lines businesses are just as bloated and inefficient, transpower also and all the retailers would get nationalised as the generators already own them.

      Power for the people, novel concept.

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        Shit dude, you aren’t you scared of coming across all “hard left” and “heterodox”??? 😈

        The banking and financial transaction system is another area to look at.

      • Tim 2.2.2

        … and protect water before its commodified/commoditised.
        Oh, while we’re about it the oil cartel need a kick in the guts; ports/airports are effectively monopolies within a region, so they should all be/remain in public hands; and then the situation with supermarkets. The truly free-maketeer could hardly object could they!
        I can recall the Max Bradford reforms – all supposedly designed to bring us “fishinsies n fectibniss n grater comtishun – all equalling lower prices for the kinsooma”.
        How long will that take do you reckon? All this neo-lib agenda has had a fair suck of the sav AND IT HASN’T/WILL NOT work. The 1/4 century experiment has failed. Unfortunately that 1/4 century coincides with a slippery dick’s educashun and working life and so he knows nothing else.
        Double up ………. roll the dice! Scream like squealing piglets and shout “wasn’t me, wasn’t me!’ when it all starts turning to shit.

      • Don't worry be happy 2.2.3

        We, the people paid for it, the whole lot…lines, dams everything…. It’s ours. We don’t want to sell. What’s happening now is theft. Call the cops!

        What’s more, these thieves are ‘repeat offenders’.

        They have no remorse and no mercy. If they get away with this theft they’ll be back for more.

        I don’t see any hope of rehabilitation until they are in recovery from their addiction to money.

        In the meantime, for the good of our society and our democracy, the only thing to do is to throw the book at them and lock them up.

  3. geoff 3

    James H, are you saying that you think power prices could fall as a consequence of the sale of MRP?

    [no. the say of MRP is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause power prices to fall. In fact, without reform, it’ll cause prices to rise. But it does make reform more likely if and when there’s a new government. JH]

    • Jimmy 3.1

      Sounds great let the capatilists take all the risk and we can have lower prices.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Smart capitalists take no risks

        They get tax payer bailouts if things go wrong or they are incompetent

    • Wayne 3.2

      Zero evidence of this. How can changing the share ownership in a company increase prices in a market where there are 7 serious players. It is just an assertion.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        I thought company directors have a responsibility maximise profits. Surely the way to do that with a captive market is to increase prices as far as you are able to.

        It is just an assertion.

        lolwut

        do you even pay your own powerbill?

        • infused 3.2.1.1

          And you wont be able to if there are 7 players. That’s the point.

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1.1

            Why not? Each board of directors is looking to maximise their profits. Do you deny that? And the easiest way with a captive market is to inch up effective power prices month by month.

          • Murray Olsen 3.2.1.1.2

            I wonder how many slightly less than magnificient Tories will be on the boards of more than one of these seven. They don’t mind collectivism at all when it’s them collecting their forces to stiff us all. There might be seven players, but they’re all on the same team and play to the same rules. We just pay more.

      • Tim 3.2.2

        Now I know where the expression “Geeez Wayne!” comes from.

  4. Jimmie 4

    Two little problems with this doomsday scenario.

    1 As the government will still own 51% of MRP (and presumably will continue to receive 51% of all dividend payments) they would still be cutting off their nose to spite their faces if they enforced a lower profit regime on the power industry.

    2 It is looking likely that with MRP there will be close to 4-500,000 IPO investors who will take up the government’s offer to purchase shares in MRP. These 4-500,000 folk are also voters.

    Pissing off 500,000 voters by essentially devaluing their investment is akin to political suicide and would never happen.

    Also if the government wants to make its next MOM share offers to be successful then it won’t rock the investment boat at all.

    I think the left need to face up to the fact that the boat has sailed on opposition to partial asset sales.
    It was fought in 2011 and the left lost. All the time, money, and energy spent on this wasted cause should have been spent on attacking the government on more vulnerable areas.

    All the CIR and msm campaign has done is give free publicity to the partial floats and remind folks to save up for the shares.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      All Labour need to do is to make a statement that it will renationalise the assets over time, at cost, using a levy on the wealthy, and you will find that the boat will come back real quick.

      Pissing off 500,000 voters by essentially devaluing their investment is akin to political suicide and would never happen.

      Meh.

      If investors want to take the risk/benefit gamble, knowing what might happen, it’s up to them. That’s capitalism for you.

      • infused 4.1.1

        Not going to happen.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Oh I agree it’s unlikely. Labour would have to give up being a centrist party and get a left wing backbone.

          • infused 4.1.1.1.1

            NZ wouldn’t have the money for another 10+ years to do something like this anyway.

            • millsy 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Probably right there. But that’s what happen when you cut taxes for the wealthy by almost 50%.

    • uke 4.2

      Yes, but high power prices – with 49% profits going to private interests – are also going to piss off a large proportion of the electrorate (i.e. those too poor to become investors).

      So the issue will become political both ways.

    • Murray Olsen 4.3

      I doubt very much if there would be anywhere near half a million Kiwi voters with shares in MRP three years after the theft, or even one year. The shares will become concentrated in fewer hands, as is almost always the case. At a quick guess, I’d say 50k would be closer.
      My question is why it is seen as political suicide to piss of these people, but good management to piss of most of the population with increased power prices? Or even why letting a beneficiary paint their own roof is seen as political suicide?
      Something has gone very wrong with our country.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1

        +1

        And, IMO, what’s gone wrong is the hard capitalism that’s been forced upon us over the last few decades and the kowtowing to the rich that the government (Labour and National led) do.

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.2

        You ain’t wrong there buddy.

    • Young Blood 4.4

      Jimmie nailed it

  5. Rogue Trooper 5

    “throw another Bill on the barbie”
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/8393529/Drought-could-cost-economy-1b
    (two economic commentators in The Dominion this week, Brian and Lyon; this economy is charcoal).

  6. Lanthanide 6

    It’s a pity the referendum still hasn’t been held. If it had been, the Left would have a good basis as to why it would run with this policy.

    At the moment, running this policy would get the left tarred as “sore losers” by National, and probably lots of other good sound-bites that the public lap up and the media would repeat ad-nauseum.

    So I guess they could couch it in those terms: if 67% or more of people reject asset sales in the referendum, then they will run with this policy. This would give everyone a reason to vote in the referendum, increasing the turn out and giving National a hard time in ignoring it, while also tanking the share price in the short term.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      An interesting quirk in this is that National might try to argue that the referendum was just about whether you agreed with asset sales or not and not whether the Left should implement this policy. But that would directly mirror the election that National like to claim as a “mandate” for why they should sell assets.

  7. Poission 7

    The problematic issue is that the entrenched oligopolies,are using book accounting to force (upwards ) the price returns ie ROI.

    This is the return not on that actual investment, but on the revalued assets returns a problematic area in natural monopolies such has airports,hydro stations etc.

    Here the monopolies such as airports get to screw the consumers and users, and use their investment diversification to not pay tax for example wellington airport has not paid any tax since 2007.

    Here is a good example for an assets tax

  8. RedBaron 8

    Well I think future governments should look at some bankster tricks.

    Firstly – indicate that there is an intent to take power back into full government ownership
    Then when the time comes:
    Issue perpetual bonds to the shareholders secured against the power company – make them totally subordinated so that any paying them back goes to the total end of the queue – just as shareholders are. Also means that you are not issuing govt stock.

    Make repayment conditional on all other debt having been repayed first
    Make the interest rate tied to the profit of the current year or the average of the previous six years whichever is the lessor. Leaves a ticking time bomb should a government be voted out.

    Drop the power prices and make no profit , therefore value of bonds drop substantially.

    Plan A Buy the bonds back – the nice approach at least a holder gets some money.

    Plan B Borrow up large from banks against the remaining assets, give money to the government by way of dividend. Then strip the assets out of the company paying back the banks as this is done. Leave for a bit then wind up the company and oh shucks sorry nothing left for the bondholders. Pleanty of templates for this.

  9. erentz 9

    Once sold I don’t think it will make sense to buy back. The focus first and foremost has to be on preventing sales and winning next year. If labour/greens don’t win next year NZ its all moot because there wont be much of a country worth saving after a third national term. If they do win and we get away with national only selling MRP before the next election I will be happy. The course of action to take then is merge the remaining generation assets. Start regulating the market more strictly. And not buy back the existing generators, but instead build new generating assets. The government generators will be able to out-compete the private ones, overtime it’s share of the generating capacity will increase and the private generators will be marinalised and less able to control the market (which we will have more tightly regulated anyway). In the future we can consider picking the bones off the private generators. Fleece them for their good assets like the dams.

    • Murray Olsen 9.1

      An interesting idea, but can new generating stations be built without significant environmental damage? I suspect that the dams already in existence are in the most efficient places, and other generating methods are still not totally mature. It’d be great if a government could build solar or wind generating capacity and undercut the present companies, but I don’t think we have the technology yet.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1

        An interesting idea, but can new generating stations be built without significant environmental damage?

        Wind power situated offshore. They’re built in existing infrastructure on land and then floated out to location. Environmental damage will be minimal and, on top of that, the area where they’re placed will act as an artificial reef and thus a breeding ground for fish. One that can’t be fished because trawlers and submarine cables just don’t mix.

        It’d be great if a government could build solar or wind generating capacity and undercut the present companies, but I don’t think we have the technology yet.

        I really don’t think that’s a problem

        • infused 9.1.1.1

          Wind power doesn’t work.

          Dams are expensive and fuck the environment.

          • millsy 9.1.1.1.1

            Thought you enjoyed fucking the environment, infused.

          • The Al1en 9.1.1.1.2

            “Wind power doesn’t work.”

            Don’t be stupid, of course it works.
            The only objection are from nimbys like that ex rugby head from the south island and retards.

            Give me a thousand wind turbines over a coal fired or nuke power station any day.

            • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.2.1

              And considering that I said to build them offshore even nimbyism doesn’t apply (although I’m sure that some of the fishing fleets will complain).

          • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.3

            Wind power doesn’t work.

            [citation needed]

            • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1.3.1

              Given that wind power provides NZ with roughly 170,000 MWhrs of electricity a month, infused has a weird concept of “doesn’t work”

    • AsleepWhileWalking 9.2

      I so want that to be the reality…but since when could SOE’s successfully outperform private interests?

      The best outcome will always be if it were never sold in the first place.

      Good to see Mai Chen talk about there possibly being more challenges to asset sales http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10869635

      If, in putting the next SOE on the block, whether Genesis or Meridian Energy, the Crown confuses the specific approval with its general obligations, and fails to properly consult or otherwise have regard to Treaty principles in each particular case, then there is a real risk of each of the further share offers being open to similar challenges. This is particularly so if the next SOE had significantly different interests from Mighty River Power and the Crown’s promises regarding water reform do not apply. Hopefully, that analysis is being done now for Genesis and Meridian Energy.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1

        I so want that to be the reality…but since when could SOE’s successfully outperform private interests?

        Since forever. It’s only an hypothesis that private does better and one that’s not backed up by the evidence.

          • Colonial Viper 9.2.1.1.1

            I dunno, was the USSR an SOE of some kind?

          • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1.2

            No. Totalitarian states generally do badly because of the amount of graft and nepotism. Exactly with what’s wrong with dictatorial entities such as a capitalist business.

          • Poission 9.2.1.1.3

            Following privatization of strategic assets such as energy Russia went broke,following renationalisation of majority stakes,the strategic energy assets have allowed Russia to become the least indebted of the G8 nations.

            • Colonial Viper 9.2.1.1.3.1

              Funny how stopping foreign owned wealth pumps sucking a country dry can be helpful for the economy.

              have allowed Russia to become the least indebted of the G8 nations.

              Russia is also 4th in the world in terms of foreign currency reserves: over half a trillion USD worth.

              Putin’s nationalisation of oil assets has also allowed Russia to acquire an additional 570 tonnes of gold reserves in the last 14 years.

              • Poission

                It would be interesting to find out what difference to the NZ economy there would have been if a lesser portion of the nz super fund had been used in portfolios and the investment had been into Kiwibank

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yep. And it wouldn’t take much to bring tens of thousands of very talented Kiwis with global networks and international experience back home to work on it.

            • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1.3.2

              And NZ didn’t do much better:

              Impact on debt (assuming 6% cumulative interest on government debt) ( nominal millions)
              Net increase in debt: 25557

              Losing ~$25b isn’t doing the country any favours.

          • millsy 9.2.1.1.4

            I get tired of the right constantly using the USSR as a stick to beat the left with. Especially seeing as a) the left (except perhaps for John Minto and Hone H) have never advocated whole sale nationalization and b) Western capitalist nations have had a very high level of public ownership of utilities (Google “Tennesee Valley Authority” and “LA Water and Power” and “US Army Corps of Engineers”).

            • Colonial Viper 9.2.1.1.4.1

              Bank of North Dakota

            • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1.4.2

              It shows their ignorance in numerous ways:
              1.) The USSR wasn’t communist but totalitarian and run on a hierarchical model which benefitted a few and thus is closely related to capitalism
              2.) Most of the great achievements by the “capitalist” countries such as landing on the moon was done by government and not private enterprise
              3.) The environmental damage done in the “communist” countries is pretty much the same as that done in the capitalist ones and for the same reason – unaccountable management looking for a cheap way to get rid of the waste.

              • Draco T Bastard

                3a.) Unaccountable management looking for a cheap way to get at resources.

  10. Nick K 10

    I am just trying to recall the percentage amount power prices rose in the 9 years of Helengrad…..70% I think. And I’m also trying to recall how much in dividends Michael Cullen banked from excessive profits of said state owned companies during the same period…..> $1Billion I think.

    • saarbo 10.1

      Yes, Cullen, Helen and Hodgson were comfortable letting Max Bradfords screwy market based electricity model lead to increases in electricity prices. In the early 2000’s when there were droughts in the south island we saw wholesale electricity prices at times increase by 1000%.

      If low lake levels are combined with a maintenance shut on particular power stations, wholesale prices can rocket, it was bloody difficult to understand how electricity prices were determined….their didnt seem to be any logic.

      But this isnt going to change if these assets are sold, in fact it will make the situation a lot worse as the government wont have the power to fix the pricing issues.

      I agree with CV on comment 2, Labour need to show some courage and announce a brave policy to buy back any shares in electricity companies (at cost). Make the announcement now.

      • Lanthanide 10.1.1

        “But this isnt going to change if these assets are sold, in fact it will make the situation a lot worse as the government wont have the power to fix the pricing issues.”

        Not really. As 51% owner, the government can still ‘call the shots’ if they want to. Or they can just legislate, which would equally affect all power businesses including the already privitised ones.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1

          Except for the part where the National Government has reassured investors that it will be a ‘silent’ partner ceeding effective control of the Board to the minority shareholders.

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      9 years of Helengrad

      As opposed to 5 years Keystone Cops?

  11. Dv 11

    Interesting comments by Bernard Hickey

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10870242

    He compares the ‘whiff of greed and intoxication’ to the 1986 share market frenzy

    He is also critical of the use of Forsyth Barr in light of their ‘misleading and deceptive’ marketing of the Credit Sailles scam.

    He makes the point that if the Mixed Ownership model is to win back the confidence of older generation then Govt should remove Forsyth Barr and Neil Parvour-Smith should resign as a director of the NZX.

    ADD to the relevation that Mighty River has a loss making investment in Chile

    Mighty River admits risk
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10870276

    ADD that the principals of MR are playing silly buggers with the select committee.

    AND there is a bunch of fine print on the bottom of the MR add that I cant read.

    Feels like a scam??

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      It’s always been a scam. Privatisation always leaves the community worse off.

    • Nick K 11.2

      Good articles. All grist for the informed choice mill. Many of those who have pre-registered won’t but any.

    • Poission 11.3

      Partying like it is 2006 or 1986 or 1999 will just give us another hangover.

      Hmm abit of Kipling perhaps

      Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
      And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
      That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

      As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
      There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
      That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
      And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

  12. RedBaronCV 12

    Anybody investing should also remember how efficent private companies are at getting rid of customers.
    The row over directors fees at Contact Energy cost it some 47,000 customers who voted with their feet.

  13. I think Shearer’s failure to pick up the challenge to buy back MRP at cost tells us where he and the current Caucus majority will go.
    He’s more interested in sucking up to the mum and dad gold diggers who are flocking to clip the ticked of monopoly profits.
    This is like queue jumpers who abandon any social ethics to put No 1 first. It reminds me of the Holland Govt selling state housing to tout private property ownership to Labour voters.
    He is saying its better for Labour to appeal to greedy parasites who want to get windfall profits from undervalued monopolies in renewable energy at the expense of consumers and the sustainability of the economy than to put up a fight for public ownership.
    These assets only exist because the state build them. The private sector has benefited from generations of cheap energy. Not content with that it wants to strip the life out of them.
    A Labour Govt that cannot take a stand on this if fucked. Better it didnt exist and cleared the decks now for a new workers party that makes no bones about ‘taking’ MRP back.
    If Shearer can’t see that this is a ‘make or break’ principle for the left then he’s ideologically right by default and the sooner he is made to resign and go back to pimping mercenaries in Africa the better.

    • RedBaronCV 13.1

      I agree Red Rattler. The dead silence from Labour is demoralising. I know that the Nacts are going to leave nothing in the purse to spend and massive borrowings for the next government.

      Still a buy back is possible if shares are changed for totally subordinated debt issued by MRP.Any interest or retiring of that debt would only be after everything else had been paid – tough if that is worthless.

      • Colonial Viper 13.1.1

        I know that the Nacts are going to leave nothing in the purse to spend and massive borrowings for the next government.

        Then expect Labour, after winning, to come out with a rather orthodox “socially balanced and fiscally responsible” budget in 2015 i.e. austerity light.

    • Colonial Viper 13.2

      Yes, Labour is a centrist party, sympathetic to free market approaches and leaning towards the upper middle class.

      nb in terms of future options, it can’t just be a new “workers” party ie it must represent and mobilise the underclasses and otherwise disenfranchised, but you know this. I just raise it for clarity.

  14. Wayne 14

    Labour is not the Alliance, which many of the posters on this site used to be members or supporters of. The inheritors of the Alliance in Parliament today are the Greens. From what I can see that is where most posters on this site are more ideologically attuned to.

    So you are wasting your time if you think you can change Labour to be the equivalent of the Alliance.

    The Labour Caucus did not choose David Shearer to be the inheritor of Jim Anderton’s mantle, so stop wasting your time railing against Labour not being left enough. There is another Party in Parliament that meets this need.

    By the way as Gaynor’s article in the Saturday Herald showed, Labor in Queensland sold a partial stake in Queensland Rail, so MOM seems to sit OK with many Labor Govts.

    The left has now lost this debate, even if the referendum goes through. Better to focus on things that could be future policy. For instance what about a more creative approach for the Super Fund to drive new economic initiatives for New Zealand. And no, using it to buy back the MOM investors does not count. That will not create nothing new.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      “Labour is not the Alliance”

      Labour never was the Alliance, and currently it’s not Labour either.

      Wow Labor Queensland ignored not only their own election policies, but also massive union and popular opinion against selling state assets and you see that as some kind of justification?

      All you are pointing out is that Labour has lost it’s historical mandate and mission, and is now a centrist party sympathetic to free market approaches, and leaning towards the interests of the upper middle class.

    • millsy 14.2

      So you thnk Labour should be ‘National-lite’ then?

      I dont know about you, but I reckon that’s bullshit.

      And the Labor parties in Aus stopped being left about 20-30 years ago.

    • Colonial Viper 14.3

      a more creative approach for the Super Fund to drive new economic initiatives for New Zealand. And no, using it to buy back the MOM investors does not count. That will not create nothing new.

      But that’s not the point is it? The Govt (not the super fund) reacquiring the shares at cost returns the assets to public ownership.

      IE it nationalises the assets.

      • burt 14.3.1

        Muldoon would have been proud of you CV

        • Colonial Viper 14.3.1.1

          Muldoon built assets

          Key is selling them off for cheap as chips.

          No similarities there.

          • burt 14.3.1.1.1

            Nationalise, regulate, confiscate… You’re political compass is perfectly aligned with the socialist (dictatorship) of lefty Muldoon.

            • Colonial Viper 14.3.1.1.1.1

              But how else can you reverse asset theft from the nation by privateers?

            • felixviper 14.3.1.1.1.2

              Hi burt. Last time you trotted out this slogan I asked you what Muldoon nationalised.

              You never answered. Care to this time?

    • Draco T Bastard 14.4

      Amazingly enough, I actually agree with Wayne on most of that.

      That will not create nothing new.

      Neither will selling them. In fact, the only thing that selling them does is increase the number of ticket clippers and dead weight loss.

  15. burt 15

    Right people lets be clear: Don’t think about investing your own money in these companies as the only thing that makes them viable is that they over charge…..

    OK, lets have them publically owned using other peoples money so that we don’t need to be concerned that the the only thing that makes them viable is that they over charge ….

    Mega fail James ….

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      It’s not “other peoples money”…all NZ legal tender is Government authorised. There is no other kind.

      If you followed your reasoning, you have to accept that these power generators were built with many other NZ’ers monies.

      So hands off!!!!

  16. Ad 16

    Any future progressive government after Key’s government will have to figure out that in the whole electricity and infrastructure space, regulators will have more power than shareholders about the direction of companies.

    My current suggestions:
    1. Aggregate remaining public capital:
    -The EQC, ACC, and NZSuper funds into a single fund with specific funding targets and profiles.

    2. Pull scrutiny into power:
    – Shift COMU from Treasury into DPMC, and
    – Enable direct shareholder representation on the Boards of the entities eg Ministers (who are not Energy portfolio holders) can go on Boards.
    – Chairs only appointed by Cabinet as a whole, and must front to Select Committee
    – Minimum % of women and Maori on the Board
    – Must hold full Shareholder meeting for any ‘significant’ asset or share sale

    3. Cap Pay
    – The Majority shareholder says: no bonuses, public sector and SOE CEO’s get no more than a Minister’s salary

    4. Regulate them hard
    – Electricity Commission must hold Board meetings in public and publish minutes
    – Electricity Commission requires all company Asset Management Plans to be supplied for scrutiny, and made public
    – Commission required to rule on any price rice 5% above inflation p.a.

    5. Climate Mitigation
    – All electricity generators must show how they will ameliorate climate change, and be given 5% corporate tax cut for achieving targets.. Could be more dams for irrigation and co-generation, or more wind farms versus thermal, over to them to prove it

    6. Adopt the Greenpeace 100% Renewable Generation target
    – Set annual milestones to achieve it

    None of the above would require buying back any shares at all.

    All would help Labour and Greens govern in a world in which the governing force of the state has been drastically weakened.

    A progressive coalition would need to be a whip-smart investor if that investor is to claw back some of the agency it has lost through asset sales, and form policy now to make the tools to do it.

    • Rogue Trooper 16.1

      some “wish-ful” thinking

    • Colonial Viper 16.2

      Any particular reason why you wouldn’t reacquire shares in the assets, in addition to the above?

      By the way, you don’t even really have to reacquire shares. Just get MRP to issue 1,000,000 new shares p.a. to the government and dilute the sons of bitches down.

      No cost to the tax payer.

      • Ad 16.2.1

        I was trying to think through the kinds of options available to Labour and the Greens since they have largely ruled out buying the shares back. The point is to think about the first Cabinet meeting December 2014: from their published policy prescriptions, what options are left to them.

        Don’t think a responsible majority shareholder would be so stupid as to spite itself let alone its own citizens doing what you proposed.

        • Colonial Viper 16.2.1.1

          Don’t think a responsible majority shareholder would be so stupid as to spite itself let alone its own citizens doing what you proposed.

          How would it spite itself? By degrading the market value and financial rating of the shares?

          That my friend, is the bloody point!!!

          • Ad 16.2.1.1.1

            I can see that you are not thinking fro the point of view of a shareholder but rather as one who wishes to see the capitalist system destroyed. Fair enough, if you are not the Government.

            But neither Labour nor the Greens propose to do that. Why not take us through the steps you see would happen to achieve your goal with MRP, and what the steps the media, rating agencies, stock exchange, and the citizen shareholders might take as a result.

            And then take us through what the Government – made up of who you have in those parties now – would do.

            And then rack that mess up with what I propose, which taken together would do the same thing. At zero cost.

            • Colonial Viper 16.2.1.1.1.1

              But neither Labour nor the Greens propose to do what you suggest either? Note: I’m not trying to “destroy” the capitalist system, I’m merely suggesting the use of common capitalist mechanisms perfected by hostile leveraged buy out firms (like KKR) in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

              But this time, in favour of the government and the citizens, as opposed to on behalf of a corporate raider on hedge fund.

              Remember, the name of the game is to attempt to stop the sales from proceeding.

              And then rack that mess up with what I propose, which taken together would do the same thing. At zero cost.

              No, your method is good, but it won’t stop the privatisation of the assets.

              A lighter method which might achieve the same result would be to harden up, and then announce some of your steps in advance. Pay caps, super profit taxes, and active Government representation on the boards for instance. Making the firms subject to OIA and Select Committee inquiry.

              and what the steps the media, rating agencies, stock exchange, and the citizen shareholders might take as a result.

              Yes, the classes with the most power in our capitalist society are going to push back. Without being too cynical, that might suggest that you are doing something correct.

              • Ad

                Proposing some of my list beforehand was my point: that Government now needs to think like a shareholder rather than as a sovereign government. As we have seen, the corporatised model has enabled Solid Energy to proceed unchecked to its own near-destruction despite 100% public ownership. This model is staying in New Zealand according to every current parliamentary party bar ACT.

                What a new progressive government would want to achieve in its first term is the greatest policy gains for the least political “goodwill” expenditure. So no, I would not recommend anything like Government behaving like a “corporate raider or hedge fund”.

                CV you have to be careful that your solutions are not simply a hard Left mirrored inverse of capitalisms’ creative destruction that got the world into the mess we are in after 2007. And prior crises.

                What the state now needs to get its head into is behaving like the most effective shareholder it can. That means not screwing its own share price and those of its citizen investors.

                I wish it were not so, but renationalistaion is never going to happen. Full sovereignty is gone. As under Labour a generation ago, when those shares are gone they are gone.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Ad, the capitalism model is going to fail in the next 10-15 years regardless of what we do or don’t do. For many many people in the developed world it has already failed. And this will accelerate once we get a renewed round of currency failures and debt defaults.

                  The task this nation has in front of it IMO is to ensure that when it fails, we are buffered from the neo-feudalism and other nasty things which are likely to arise.

                  That means not screwing its own share price and those of its citizen investors.

                  Sure, being a long-time operator in capitalist environments I get what you are saying here.

                  The larger context however is that the only real important thing from those assets is electricity. Not their nominal market cap.

  17. Ed 17

    The court found that there is a legitimate treaty claim relating to loss of rights to be involved in the management of the water being used by Mighty River. It would be unfair for this not to be paid for by all shareholders – if met only by the crown this would be a windfall profit to private shareholders in comparison to the government shareholder. All Labour needs do is indicate that it would look to treaty claims being paid for by any companies involved in gaining profits from management of water . . .

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