Asset sales

An asset sale by other name would smell as sweet

National falls in the trap of making non-equivocal statements, like “no new taxes” and “no more asset sales”.

But then they have to start farting around the edges with semantics.  Oh no, that’s not an asset sale, it’s a sale of unused, erm… you know, things.  But it’s not an asset sale!

The Government is looking at raising money from the sale of unused land and under-utilised assets held by state-owned enterprises, Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed.

Treasury documents suggest about $2 billion could be raised and Labour says it’s a backdoor attempt to continue the asset sales programme.

“National promised before the election not to sell more assets,” Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson said today.

“This paper indicates there is an extensive list of assets held by SOEs that are now on the chopping block.”     Read more »

The perfect storm: another SOE in trouble, Dairy Crash, Asset Sales, Chinese buyers

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Labour couldn’t have scripted it any better

State-owned farmer Landcorp may be forced into a big sell-off of farms as it struggles with the dairy plunge.

There’s concern those farms be bought by offshore investors.

Landcorp’s flagship project is converting the massive Wairakei Estate into the largest dairy unit in the world. But now, with the dairy price slump, Finance Minister Bill English is raising the alarm.

“Like any other farmer they will have a pretty tight situation to deal with,” he says. Read more »

Delicious irony: ex Labour MP turned mayor can’t sell people on Asset Sales

Lianne Dalziel cracks me up.  Having been part of the “Asset Sale Bad” crew for a couple of decades, at the first opportunity she fell back on the idea of asset sales to deal with Christchurch’s problems.

But Labour have been so successful at pushing the idea that you never actually sell anything you own, she’s discovering she’s hamstrung by the same poisonous policies she used to foist on the public.

Christchurch City Council may look to sell-off road maintenance company City Care and public transport provider Red Bus to salvage major assets like the port and airport.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel wants the companies removed from the council’s list of strategic assets, increasing the likelihood of a sale as they work to save millions of dollars.

The suggestion was part of a suite of mayoral recommendations around the council’s long-term plan, and follows submissions from more than 3000 people.

Ms Dalziel has also suggested removing Lancaster Park, Horncastle Arena and all off-street parking facilities owned and operated by council from the list of strategic assets. Read more »

Asset Sales backfires on Dalziel

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The leftie mantra that asset sales are evil under any circumstances as come to haunt ex-Labour MP and Christchuch mayor Leanne Dalziel

Six Christchurch City Councillors are pitching an alternative budget in a bid to avoid asset sales.

The Christchurch City Council is facing a $1.2 billion dollar funding shortfall and is considering a partial sell-down of its assets, including Christchurch International Airport, Orion, and Lyttelton Port. Read more »

When hypocrisy turns into a spectator sport

The Labour and Green parties have vehemently been anti-asset sales for decades.    The Christchurch mayor was a Labour MP against asset sales only a few years ago.

The Greens believe Christchurch’s assets are going to be sold, although the city council insists no decisions have been made.

It’s been discussing selling assets to help pay for the rebuild, and a consultation document has been released which proposes raising $750 million.

The council yesterday announced it had appointed financial consultants Cameron Partners to provide commercial advice on asset sales.

“The council is approaching the option with an open mind and will not make a decision until it has completed consultation on the plan,” Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

“Asset sales are only on the table because we face an estimated $1.2 billion shortfall in funding, the proposal is to sell shares to strategic partners that have the community’s long-term interests at heart.”

The council owns assets including Lyttelton Port Company, Orion and Christchurch International Airport.

The Green Party’s Christchurch spokeswoman, Eugenie Sage, thinks it’s a done deal.

“Why on earth would Christchurch City spend money for financial advice on asset sales that may not even happen?” she said. Read more »

Meridian listed too cheaply, Labour and Greens to blame says analyst

When it became apparent that National was intent on honouring its election promise of asset sales the Labour and Green parties concocted a power policy called NZ Power that was deliberately designed to sabotage the listings.

It worked and the listing share price of Meridian was down graded as a result…but now the shares are trading at double the listing price and one analyst blames Labour and the Greens for the sharp discount.

Since listing at $1, Meridian shares have more than doubled, providing investors with a return of more than 100 per cent in less than 18 months. If dividends are included, this return jumps to 125 per cent over the period.

Utility companies such as Meridian are supposed to be predictable companies that offer steady (yet modest) returns. They aren’t supposed to double in price within barely a year the way a high-growth technology share might.

Part of this can be explained by a fall in interest rates over the period, which has made high-yielding shares more attractive and seen investor demand push up share prices.

But with the benefit of hindsight, another key reason for such a strong performance is that they were probably sold a little too cheaply in the first place.

Read more »

National aware of State Housing sell-off risks

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I’ve criticised National a number of times about the handling of the Housing New Zealand “asset sale” because the government isn’t in control of the message with Labour pushing it very hard as another John Key asset sale where people with no money are left on the streets.

Cabinet papers from December – prepared by the offices of the Minister of Finance Bill English and the Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett – which were released by Treasury late yesterday show that overall, Housing New Zealand will shed up to 8000 properties by 2017.

These papers were dumped late on a day before a long weekend.  The Government doesn’t want these papers to be discussed in the media. Read more »

Argh crap. I warned him about this

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John Key may get good advice but it doesn’t mean he accepts all of it.  He’s breaking one of the golden rules for starters:  explaining is losing.

Prime Minister John Key and Labour Party leader Andrew Little are both poised to deliver keynote speeches tomorrow, but Mr Key has got in first, setting the agenda with the issue closest to everyone’s heart – housing, but specifically selling off the ones the state owns. Read more »

“Oh the irony, it hurts!”, ctd

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You know, you can be part of the Labour Party for many years, push against asset sales many years, and be synonymous with strong opposition to asset sales, until you become the mayor, and then – suddenly – the economic realities make asset sales just fine.

The airport is booming, making a healthy profit from the 6 million passengers that use it every year.

Orion made a cool $50 million last year, while the Lyttelton Port Company is another multimillion-dollar earner. But the cash-strapped Christchurch City may have to do a partial sell-down of them to pay for the city’s rebuild. Read more »

Every state house is a sacred state house?

Phil Twyford explaining why the derelict state house behind him should be kept for eternity.

Phil Twyford explaining why the derelict state house behind him should be kept for eternity.

At the moment the National led government is looking at selling some state houses.

You’d think the world and caved in on itself if you listened to the Labour party.

They are invoking asset sales because in their world if even a single house is sold that is an asset sale.

Presumably they will also be protesting about the Ministry of Education’s Surplus Property Disposal Incentive Scheme where schools are encouraged to “release surplus school property to the Ministry of Education for disposal through the Surplus Property Disposal Incentive Scheme (SPDIS).”

Surplus property is surely just another word for assets?

When you think about it the mere suggestion that because something is owned by the government it can never be sold, even when tried, worn out or simply in the wrong place for modern times.

Society changes as do our preferences and the way we live. But for some reason the Labour party thinks that we should forever remain stuck in the heydays of state housing in the 40s and 50s, with every citizen hankering after a state house.   Read more »