Based on a release from Tony Ryall, a useful guide as to how National and Labour did asset sales. And recall Phil Goff, Annette King and Trevor Mallard vote for the Labour asset sales.If you look at the "economic" issues in the table; that is, ignore the "political" issues, lines 1,2 and 7, Labour looks better than National on asset sales. Lines 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 would be indicators of a better sales process than that being put forward by National.
Labour 1988 – 90 National 2012 Announced policy before election No Yes Used urgency to pass legislation Yes No Kept majority in Govt hands No Yes Sold all or most to foreigners Yes No Priority for NZ investors No Yes 10% share cap No Yes Allowed select committee hearings No Yes Public float No Yes
Labour sold a total of 15 assets, so some answers vary by asset sold.
Compare these lines with the argument I have made previously about the downsides to the National proposal.
First, selling only 49% of the shares in the companies is unlikely to make an difference to the way the SOEs are run. In particular the sell off will not make the firms anymore efficient since the government will still be the controlling shareholder.
Second, if the government really does want to maximise the income it gets from the sales selling 49% is not a good idea. 51% is worth a lot more than 49%, that is people will pay a premium for control.
Third, selling to "Mums and Dads" will do nothing for the amount of money raised, since Mums and Dads will need a discount to make them buy shares.
Fourth, selling to "Mums and Dads" will do nothing for the efficiency effect of having private owners, since there will be too many "Mums and Dads" for them to be able to coordinate their effects to effect the firm's behaviour.
Fifth, given that each "Mum or Dad" will own only a very small share of any of the firms, they have little incentive to become informed on the firm's activities since they will only capture a very small amount of any improvement in performance they could bring about. This is another reason why performance is unlikely to change.
Sixth, the discipline of bankruptcy or takeover is not greater since the government is still the controlling shareholder and is unlikely to let either of these options happen.
The Labour method of sale does much to address the issues I raise with regard to the problems with National's scheme.