Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Nats milked troubled Solid Energy for cash

David

SHEARER

Labour Leader
13 March 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT

Nats milked troubled Solid Energy for cash

Ministers pressured Solid Energy to increase its debt levels so it could return bigger dividends to the Government despite knowing the company was facing financial difficulties, says Labour Leader David Shearer.

“Bill English knew that coal prices were forecast to decline in 2009 but still urged Solid Energy to increase its gearing (debt to equity) ratio. That means ‘go out and borrow more’ despite knowing there was trouble ahead.

“The Finance Minister told Parliament today he didn’t know coal prices were going to decline. But documents obtained by Labour show that he did.

“In May 2009, shareholding ministers, including Bill English, wrote to Solid Energy expressing disappointment with the ‘forecast decline’ in its financial performance and ‘dramatic decline in profitability and dividends’.

“In it, they urge Solid Energy to increase its gearing ratio despite confirming that they’re aware there has been a ‘significant decline’ in forecast coal prices.

“At the same time, the Government was demanding increased dividends. And Solid Energy paid up, returning $130 million over four years, including $30 million in late 2011 by which time coal prices had further declined and the company was in financial distress.

“The company’s total borrowing ballooned from $13 million in 2009 to $191 million the following year and $313 million by 2012.

“John Key and his ministers are desperately dumping the blame on the Solid Energy board. But the real blame rests with them. They were urging the company to borrow more despite knowing stormy financial times were ahead. They knew the company was in trouble but continued to treat it like a cash cow.

“It’s time John Key took responsibility. While Solid Energy’s woes are complex and this is not the only factor in its decline, the pressure from ministers to borrow more and pay bigger dividends certainly contributed to its current dire financial straits,” said David Shearer.

ENDS

NOTE: Letter from shareholding ministers to Solid Energy attached
Letter_from_Ministers_to_Solid_Energy_May_2009.pdf

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>

ALSO:

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news