Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This makes no sense

Ports of Auckland is one of New Zealand's largest companies. It is owned by the people of Auckland, though the Auckland Regional Council, and the resulting dividend stream used to pay for Auckland's regional public transport system. It is thus a prime public asset, whose ownership delivers concrete and ongoing benefits to the people of Auckland.

However, profits are down this quarter due to the global recession. It's not terrible, it doesn't threaten the future of the company, but it does mean the ARC won't be getting as much money. In response to this, the chair of Ports of Auckland's board, Gary Judd, is pushing for the company to be privatised.

This simply makes no sense. To point out the blindingly obvious, the people of Auckland will not get a good price for their asset by selling it in the middle of a recession. Instead, they'll get screwed, while the buyer laughs all the way to the bank.

That is of course assuming the ARC wants to sell- and they've made it very clear they don't. Which raises the question: who is Gary Judd working for? Because it sure as hell isn't the ARC and the people of Auckland. And given that he so clearly cannot properly represent the interests of the public owners on the board, he should resign or be fired.