Plan B for opponents of asset sales? Get out the cheque book.
Okay, the law has passed and while from a taxpayers' point of view it was a flawed idea to sell part of the state-owned energy companies, it is time to accept they are going ... and move on to Plan B.
Flawed, because as a co-owners we had the right to baulk at selling assets at anything less than top dollar if they are earning a decent margin over the cost of borrowing.
Yes there are other aspects the Government needed to take into account; adding new opportunitiites for investors in the New Zealand equities market and - maybe the most compelling one from the national viewpoint - giving the capital-raising markets a shot in the arm to help other businesses with ideas a more receptive market.
Treasury, who otherwise are keen sellers, fairly pointed out in the February Budget Policy Statement that the taxpayer would be worse off by around $100 million a year in lost earnings from the full asset sales programme - though there could be wider benefits to the economy.
But that is all water under the bridge.and through the turbines now.
At least one SOE, Mighty River Power, will be sold down and will probably hit the sharemarket in late October.
So what's Plan B for opponents of the sale?
For those who can afford the spare cash, surely logic dictates that rather than stand on principle and boycott the sale, they buy as many shares as possible - or at least as many as would be needed to preserve their citizen's share of the asset and keep as much as possible in NZ hands?
If the float raises $1.8 billion for 49 per cent of Mighty River Power then on average each New Zealander - either in person or through savings vehicles - would need to stump up $500 to preserve full NZ ownership.
Of course it won't happen, because some shares - maybe as many as 20-30 per cent of those on offer - will be set aside for foreign institutional investors.
But wouldn't it be a scream (and a political curate's egg for the Government) if Kiwis lined up to buy shares in such numbers that they were not only "at the front of the queue" but also offered to push others out of the line?
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