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Appointment raises more fears on asset sales

SOEs Spokesperson
MP for Waimakariri

2 November 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Appointment raises more fears on asset sales

It’s no surprise John Key is trying to distance himself from Treasury appointing the Australian arm of an international investment bank as an independent adviser on asset sales, because it’s the clearest sign yet that foreign investors are keen to snap up what National wants to sell, says Labour’s SOE spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.

“No one doubts that Treasury has acted properly in making the appointment, but there are nevertheless a number of disturbing elements to the choice of Lazard,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“The first is that the appointment is being made now, before National has received the mandate it claims it is seeking. For sure, the appointment is conditional, but there could hardly be a more blatant and arrogant sign that the Government is taking voters for granted.

“Secondly, Lazard’s funds management arm, Lazard Asset Management, has an infrastructure fund that commentators are saying will be expected to buy stakes in the New Zealand assets National is so keen to sell,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“That immediately raises conflict of interest issues that will have to be managed very carefully indeed. And what does it mean in terms of giving preference to Kiwi Mum and Dad investors?

“Thirdly, the contract is believed to have come at the expense of a New Zealand firm also understood to be seeking the job.

“And fourthly, the head of Lazard’s Australian advisory business is John Wylie, the so-called ‘grandfather of privatisation’ in Australia. John Key is getting himself into the big league here.

“There is no aspect of Treasury’s appointment that should give voters any comfort over National’s short-sighted intentions. No wonder John Key is holding his hands up, and saying ‘it’s not me’.

“If the assets are sold, we will never get them back,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “The only sure way to keep them in New Zealand hands is to elect a Labour-led Government.”


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