Will @JulieAnneGenter’s KiwiBank plan bankrupt KiwiPost? @JordNZ

The Greens are followed up on an earlier suggestion by Julie Anne Genter, the Green’s Shadow Minister of Finance, that KiwiBank should be refocused to keeping interest rates low. To that end, it would not be required to pay dividends to the government to help fund the effort. KiwiBank has only just started paying dividends to its parent, KiwiPost.

If that were to be the case, that KiwiBank was no longer be required to pay dividends, that would blow quite a hole in the balance sheet of its parent company KiwiPost.

KiwiPost owns the share capital of KiwiBank, which must be valued on a commercial basis to pass auditing as a state owned enterprise which is commercially orientated.

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Source: Historic $21 million dividend paid by state owned bank Kiwibank | interest.co.nz.

That share capital owned by KiwiPost in KiwiBank would be have to be written off if KiwiBank were to pay no further dividends because it is no longer commercially orientated entity. Such a write-off of its investment in KiwiBank would write off most of Kiwi Post’s equity capital.

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Source: Some 14 years after it launched and nearly NZ$830 mln later, Kiwibank predicted to become a self sustaining dividend payer in 2016 | interest.co.nz.

The reason why state owned enterprises are required to be valued on commercial principles is to ensure that any subsidies or other favours sought by politicians show up in the profit and loss statement or the balance sheet through asset write-offs. Section 7 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986  non-commercial activities states that:

Where the Crown wishes a State enterprise to provide goods or services to any persons, the Crown and the State enterprise shall enter into an agreement under which the State enterprise will provide the goods or services in return for the payment by the Crown of the whole or part of the price thereof.

This statutory safeguard ensures that the cost of any policies proposed by ministers, and the Greens are very keen on transparency and independent costing of political promises, are plain to all.

@NZGreens expand KiwiBank into wrong market to cut mortgage rates @JulieAnneGenter

The Greens want to cut mortgage rates by having KiwiBank expand in business lending. Wrong market.

This expansion into a market that is not the mortgage market is to be underwritten by a capital injection as the Greens explain:

    1. Inject a further $100 million of capital in KiwiBank to speed its expansion into commercial banking;
    2. Allow KiwiBank to keep more of its profits to help it grow faster; and,
    3. Give KiwiBank a clear public purpose to lead the market in passing on interest rate cuts.

Note well that the $100 million capital injection is to expand in to commercial banking. More aggressive passing on of interest rate cuts may jeopardise credit ratings if this lowers the profitability of KiwiBank. KiwiBank has an A- rating

The bigger hole in the policy is the more aggressive mortgage rate setting by KiwiBank will be done by keeping more of its profits and paying fewer dividends to its parent company Kiwi Post and through that to the taxpayer. There are next to no dividends currently to stop distributing to fund a more aggressive mortgage rate setting policy.

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Source: KiwiBank pays its first dividend of $21 million to Government | Stuff.co.nz.

KiwiBank paid its first dividend last year. Prior to that, the bank kept all profits to allow it to expand its lending base. $20 million in foregone dividends does not go far given the actual size of all  lending markets in New Zealand.

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Source: G1 Summary information for locally incorporated banks – Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

KiwiBank is minnow in the mortgage market and a pimple in commercial lending. Rapid business expansion is risky in any market, much less in banking.

The government has declined further capital injections so profits were retained to meet capital adequacy ratios. The government in 2010 earmarked NZ$300 million for an uncalled capital facility for NZ Post to help maintain its credit rating and KiwiBank’s growth.

Saving the best for last, KiwiBank last year announced plans to borrow up to $150 million through an issue of BB- perpetual capital notes to be used to bolster the bank’s regulatory capital position.

The Margin for the Perpetual Capital Notes has been set at 3.65% per annum and the interest rate will be 7.25% per annum for the first five years until the first reset date of 27 May 2020. Kiwi Capital Funding Limited is not guaranteed by KiwiBank, New Zealand Post nor the New Zealand Government.

The Perpetual Capital Notes have a BB- credit rating compared to KiwiBank which has an A- rating. These capital notes were issued in addition to prior subordinate debt in the form of CHF175 million (about NZ$233 million) worth of 5-year bonds.

I doubt that KiwiBank can raise capital through subordinated debt under normal commercial conditions if it does not plan to seek profits in the same way as other commercial banks do. The current issue of Perpetual Capital Notes are already rated as junk bonds:

An issue of $150 million of perpetual capital notes from KiwiBank with a speculative, or "junk", credit rating have been priced at the bottom of their indicative margin range.

The closest the prospectus for these Perpetual Capital Notes got to complementing KiwiBank changing from a normal business to being a public good is the following risk statement:

Kiwibank’s banking activities are subject to extensive regulation, mainly relating to capital, liquidity levels, solvency and provisioning.

Its business and earnings are also affected by the fiscal or other policies that are adopted by various regulatory authorities of the New Zealand Government.

The interest rate on this subordinate debt will go up to offset the additional risk  of aggressive lending and aggressive expansion, which will cancel out many of the advantages of not having to pay for dividends and the capital injection.

That discipline is one of the  purposes of subordinate debt in the regulatory capital of banks. This is to provide another pair of eyes and ears to watch the performance of the bank and through rising costs of lending and risk ratings, signal trouble of imprudent lending and lack of cost control.

The proposal to use KiwiBank to lower mortgage rates does not add up. KiwiBank does not pay much in the way of dividends to fund such a foray.  KiwiBank is already far more leveraged than any other New Zealand major bank.

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Source: NZ trading bank leverage | interest.co.nz

New Zealand Post (incl. Kiwibank) dividends

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Source: New Zealand Treasury – data released under the Official Information Act.

Commercial evaluation of KiwiRail, Solid Energy and total SOE portfolio in New Zealand since 2007

Two dogs of an investment propped up a $20 billion portfolio that a few years later was worth less than 1/5 of that. Both of these stalwarts are now worth not even one dollar.

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Source:New Zealand Treasury – information released under the Official Information Act, January 2016.

NZ state-owned enterprise dividends & cash injections since 2007 – updated

With a straight face, the Labour Party and the Greens claim that state-owned enterprises should not be sold because taxpayers give up the future dividend stream.

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Source: New Zealand Treasury – data released under the Official Information Act.

Leaving to one side what the sale price is the net present value of, for as far back as I could obtain data from the Treasury, it is a rare year in which the taxpayers does not pour more money into state-owned enterprises than they get back in dividends.

Transpower is carrying the entire state-owned enterprise portfolio. Earlier on, Solid Energy – a now bankrupt coal mining company– was carrying the portfolio in terms of cash flow to the taxpayer.

@nzlabour @NZGreens New Zealand state-owned enterprises dividends paid and capital injections since 2007

The New Zealand Labour Party and New Zealand Greens both make much of the fact that when you privatise a state-owned enterprise the taxpayer is no longer entitled to dividends from the privatised business. The fact that the sale price is the net present value of those future dividends is a rating fallacy that is not the subject of this post.

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Source: New Zealand Treasury –  data released under the Official Information Act.

What is the subject of this post is whether there are indeed any dividends paid to taxpayers after capital injections. 2007 was the last year in which dividends to the taxpayer exceeded capital injections. The reason was that dog called KiwiRail.

@nzlabour @NZGreens Adjusted return to equity on the New Zealand state owned enterprises portfolio since 2008

I asked for information from the Treasury for as far back as 2000 but could only get information back to 2008 on the return on equity of the portfolio of state-owned enterprises to the taxpayer.

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Source: New Zealand Treasury – released under Official Information Act.

Apparently, long-term information on the performance of the state-owned enterprise portfolio is not available. Anyone wanting to know the performance of an individual or group of listed companies simply looks at the share price was far back as they want. The prices of individual shares reflect market expectations of future dividends and future price movements, and they go up and down as new information is revealed. The history of a share price indicates the ups and downs of a company in one number far better than any other available indicator.

I also included the adjusted rate of return on equity taking out the two dogs in the portfolio: Solid Energy and KiwiRail.

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Source: New Zealand Treasury – released under Official Information Act.

Six of the world’s seven billion people have mobile phones – but only 4.5 billion have a toilet, according to a U.N. report

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