Nationalise Fletcher Building to ensure we can rebuild NZ

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The crisis we are facing is a crisis of the system of production and reproduction that has dominated the earth for 150 years.

That system demands that commodities be produced and sold for a profit. If that profit cannot be guaranteed the system will stop producing until a new balance is created.

That balance can only be achieved at the expense of working people and the planet. In New Zealand that will mean hundreds of thousands of jobs gone and millions across the globe. The 1% who own the means of production are also demanding the shredding of environmental controls to free up business, including in agriculture.

According to the chairman of the board of SkyCity Rob Campbell, it is his “Fiduciary duty” to sack people.

His company refused the 12-week subsidy for salaried staff so they could do it immediately rather than wait.

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Over 2019 he presided over a share buyback process to reward shareholders directly. These practices used to be treated as illegal share manipulation. Hundreds of millions of dollars were drained from the accounts and given to shareholders directly. These reserves could have been used to help the company during this crisis.

Fletcher Building also did a $300 million share buyback in 2019 and after enriching themselves in this manner demanded workers have pay cuts of up to 70%.

In the US share buybacks have been worth trillions of dollars over the last decade at the same time as corporate debt doubled to $10 trillion. Debt has actually been used for 30% of the share buybacks in a display of criminal greed and recklessness!

As the Harvard Business Reviews noted on January 7 this year in an article headed “Why stock buybacks are bad for the economy“:

When companies do these buybacks, they deprive themselves of the liquidity that might help them cope when sales and profits decline in an economic downturn. Making matters worse, the proportion of buybacks funded by corporate bonds reached as high as 30% in both 2016 and 2017, according to JPMorgan Chase. The International Monetary Fund’s Global Financial Stability Report, issued in October, highlights “debt-funded payouts” as a form of financial risk-taking by U.S. companies that “can considerably weaken a firm’s credit quality.”

It is almost as if this class of super-rich owners has deliberately enriched themselves in ways that ensured they got as much as possible out of the firms they were managing as possible before the next crisis hit.

Those companies are now weaker and more debt-ridden than they would have been without this enrichment.

It is highly probable that the will have to recuse companies like Fletcher Building before this crisis is over to prevent its collapse. If this is done the shareholders should be expropriated with no compensation and the company repurposed to be a Ministry of Works for the 21st century run by the government and the workers to rebuild New Zealand.

 

24 COMMENTS

  1. We need to follow Germany to order all companies that take public funding to give shares to Government for payment of funds given them by Government to save their companies.

  2. Don’t forget Mike, that SkyCity also invested in online casinos, so when they say they are making no money… they are lying.

  3. Can’t we talk a out this first I mean I’m left wing but Fletchers? Why not break them up into distribution, retail and commercial or perhaps buy a controlling stack. I’m just concerned that we buy businesses at a premium (or God forbid not at all) and then some one comes along and sells them for a dollar. And Fletchers would be a prime take over opportunity.

  4. Honestly…? It’s as if we’re twins @ Mike Treen.
    “It is almost as if this class of super-rich owners has deliberately enriched themselves in ways that ensured they got as much as possible out of the firms they were managing as possible before the next crisis hit.”

    “It is almost as if…”
    More like, it’s exactly what it is.
    It’s a huge ask, I admit. To ask people, we lovely old, dear old, normal people to comprehend the terrible fact that our illustrious leaders of commerce and business are, in fact, a pack of fucking crooks.
    No…? Seriously. When you just read what I done just wrote? ” … pack of fucking crooks. ” What did you take from that, I’ll admit, somewhat course sentence?
    I didn’t use the word ‘crook’ as a metaphor. I meant the word ‘crook’ to be taken in its literal definition.
    Hello dictionary?
    “Crook.
    2 informal a person who is dishonest or a criminal: the man’s a crook, he’s not to be trusted.”
    When you, dear reader swing by place makers, for example, are you really swinging by the mafia who’ve got you mesmerised by twinkle-sparkle?
    #A. Are you there to appease the parasitic instant gratification worm burrowing around in your brain which was put there by them ?
    #B. Because you’re so head-fucked by advertising coupled with a desire to live in a nice home that you’ll whip out your credit card and fall head first into debt then they got you by your tender little bits?
    Or #A and #B?
    Everything Mike Treen has written is dead right and correct.
    Now? Bare with…?
    Here I go. On my usual rant about agriculture. Again. ( I’ve honed self deprecation down to a fine art.)
    The MONEY the crooks are playing with isn’t urban in origin. No.
    It’s agrarian. It’s from what farmers do. They put out the rams, the bulls, the stags and the Billy’s. They grow the seeds, grains, bulbs and tubers. They shear the sheep and fatten the steers and weathers, they harvest the grains, bulbs and tubers. Not you urban people. You’re just harvested to make fat crooks fatter from your being sold into debt slavery all your lives by the four foreign owned retail banksters sucking $6 billion a year out of a country of 5 billion people. And when you’re dropped overboard by Big Kiwi-As urban business when the crooks need to run for it it’ll be you who’d better have a nice pile of cash under your mattress or you’re fucked.
    AO/NZ’s been hamstrung by crooks for generations and generations. Bleeding out farming and selling urban people into debt and it was done easily because there was a flood of money coming into AO/NZ from the sale of foods and wool fibres exported/sold to a vast foreign market and most of that money’s been hidden, sequestered, ‘invested’… The Cook Islands and The Panama Papers were a couple of near misses for our cadre of crooked urban swine.
    Re this looming and latest shitstorm, pardon the vernacular? It isn’t new and nothing about it surprises me. This time however, we have mass and instant information. There’s nowhere for them to hide. They can’t buy reporters, they can’t hide behind the doors of their ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’. I think that this time, they’re fucked.

    If the gubbimint should do anything at all, it should be to throw up a force field around our farmers. If any or all of the urban parasites get a hold of agriculture we’re more fucked than ten fucked things on international fucked things day.
    When you have control over food production you have ultimate control over everything. It’s a fascists wet dream.
    Based upon my above paragraph, could I be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the intensive cowsploitation we see virtually everywhere is also, perhaps entirely, a polite land grab by foreign interests aided and abetted by a cadre of rich, Kiwi-As traitors? Where the invading forces have udders and 4 x tits?
    Heard of Silver Fern Farms? https://www.silverfernfarms.com/
    Heard of Shanghai Maling Aquarius Ltd? https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/600073:CH
    Heard of being fucked without the kissing?
    Could I be forgiven for thinking that not only do the above fuckers get to own our land but they get to keep the money they pocket from that?
    Fletcher Challenge. Wrightson/PGG. BNZ. The NZ Wool Board. The Apple and Pear Marketing Board. The NZ Meat Board.The Dairy Board, The National Party and lets not forget The National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Mortgage_and_Agency_Company_of_New_Zealand
    No bigger nest of rats existed.
    “National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand Limited owned a nationwide stock and station agency business originally intended to invest directly in New Zealand pastoral activities and lend to other participants in that industry. By the 1960s as well as the export of wool and meat and dealing in livestock it provided grain and seed merchandising, wholesale grocery services including wines and spirits and arrangement of property and other real estate sales.”

    Farmers? Hello? Are you there? Come in? An opinion please? Don’t be shy.

    • Hello CB! I’m running the family farm at the moment. Sheep and beef btw. The fact is the only functioning component of the New Zealand economy during lockdown are the Primary Industries. They were also by far the major contributors to NZ net wealth generation before the lockdown. They will also be the only remotely feasible saviour of the NZ economy after the lockdown. These are facts that Martyn (and many here at TDB) have yet to comprehend and make peace with (as opposed to the relentless disparagement of the sector to date).

      • MB and some others simply look at the asset value of farms and think, hey, the owner/s have millions in ‘wealth’, and are rich and swim in money, thus living a life of ‘luxury’, while many are working their butts off and take huge risks, i.e. droughts and other unexpected events, and may have more losses than income in one year.

      • there also 60 billion in debt just like the rest of the population farmers signed the contracts with the banksters

  5. We don’t need Fletchers and a big (tarnished) name to build stuff.

    After the 2nd world war NZ managed to build the state houses with our own materials and local labour. Nicky Hager built his own house and we would be better off, if people were allowed self determination to look after ourselves without it now being a crime.

    Now we need to pay a fortune to build us a leaky or failing house or apartment, signed off by council and any compensation going to lawyers …. not actually helping anybodies lives or giving people a place to live.

    Now under a failed strategy Kiwibuild gives 1/3 state land away for free, 1/3 bought up by anybody who is a resident here and 1/3 is the new state house just to replace the old state house (less all the land for building more housing now privatised under the system). Another issue, our current building styles mean the new state house might not be fit for purpose in 10 years….

    Natz gave the state houses away for a song….. paying millions in ‘consultancy fees’ to mates,

    Now taxpayers pay billions to buy or rent them back again, house the hundreds of thousands of increasing amounts of people on low wages and benefits who need them and spend a fortune on private companies to rehabilitate people in NZ, who if they had had a change of a decent childhood, decent job and a supportive government, they would never have needed huge government support in the first place. It’s crazy!

    Taxes are diverted from public health into the above routs!

    An alarming statistic.

    NZ now has less hospital beds per capita than they did in 2013.

    What has happened to NZ in the last 6 years I wonder?

    I guess if you added the 4 million tourists into the mix then the hospital beds are even more woeful.

  6. I think that a company, if it wished to reduced its employed capital, should be required, first of all, to reduce its debt rather than buy back its own shares; then, once debt free, it should arrange for a capital repayment to all shareholders proportional to the numbers of shares held by each.

    It should be noted that reductions in debt also benefit shareholders.

  7. Yup Mike. The government should drive them out of business then make an offer of $1.
    They should have done this 18 months ago when they had the chance when their share price was in the dole drums and they were splitting up the business and had to refinance with the banks.

    Withdraw all the government contracts under the ‘Force majeure’ clause, that’ll do it!

  8. Great post , Mr Treen, – I also like CLEANGREEN’S perspective…. why in this country are we always behind the 8 Ball?

    Is it because that we were the guinea pigs for the neo liberal experiment , and more importantly , seen as the junior partner in the 5 eyes agreement ( that got too wealthy in the late 1960’s ) and needed to be kept in check so as to not get too uppity?

    I, however , am of the conviction that if any large company gets too shitfaced, too brazenly out of line with the public good, too powerful and that holds a govt to ransom,… that they are given several warnings , and if unheeded, given Hobsons choice,…

    A legal mechanism such as in Germany as mentioned by CLEANGREEN would suffice to make them pull their heads in…esp if they are wrecking the environment or harming the welfare of the public or their workers , – to which they owe obligations to all three category’s if they want to operate here …and in the case of foreign owners of large concerns, I advocate they be given more punitive and severe direct action…

    ” CLEAN UP YOU ACT AND DESIST OR WE WILL NATIONALIZE YOUR BUSINESS PRONTO ”.

    Such a government I would admire and respect greatly.

    Yes , you can have your private enterprise and run a profit, – but WITHIN regulations that monitor your company’s effects on people and the environment. But if you even start to look like your fucking over our people or environment, – out the back door you go!

    This country did perfectly fine pre 1984 without you. You are expendable. You do not influence our elected government to NOT be the guardians and protectors of the best interests of this nations peoples.

    If I had my way, ALL former Utility’s would be bought back, shares delivered to govt and the NZ public with a caveat that any shares that the public wish to sell are recouped only by the govt so that Utility remains firmly in the public of NZ’s possession. And it would be locked into legislation.

    As for large scale private NZ corporate’s , – if they held key aspects that are deemed essential services, govt would have FIRST OPTION to buy shares if that company experienced difficulty’s. When the problem is rectified, – the same as above would apply.

    Because only a government can back and guarantee, ensure and sustain essential services and Utility’s during times of crisis. The caveat to ALL this , is that a govt retains 55-60% of shares.

    Chris Trotter did an excellent article on how China very cleverly re-nationalized its essential utility’s and brought them back under state control by passing legislation that required a certain percentage of their officials were to be included on the board of directors, and over time, by increments, legislated to increase that number,… it was not long before the piratical capitalists that had bled China dry for decades were sent packing.

    If anyone, Chris or Martyn can find that link to that article I’d appreciate it !

    I’m no communist, – in fact I favour a Keynesian mixed economic model, but when it comes to essentials such as electricity, water , public transport and the like , or large scale beneficial industry’s such as timber production ( think Kinlieth Forrest )- or ANY other former asset generations of taxpayers slugged their guts out to develop, – that should stay firmly in the hands of the public via our govt.

    The obscenity of former NZ owned banks – ( isn’t it that 5 out of our 6 major banks are now owned by the bloody Aussie?- who was the moronic shit for brains that enabled that ?!!?),- that are now Australian owned boasting of a 6 billion dollar extraction from NZ in a year galls me entirely. How much could that have been put towards a housing rebuild in this country? Complete with employing Kiwi – as private contractors to build em? And timber to be supplied in bulk by the once proudly owned Kiwi Kinlieth timber company??

    Who the fuck did this to all of us?

    Of course we know the answer, eh Roger.

    You complete treasonous fucker.

  9. Under normal circumstances I would say let them fail and be bought up by someone else for a song (that is what Helen Clark should have allowed to happen to Air NZ).
    However, not all the businesses that will fail are doing so because they were badly run.
    Most of them will fail because the Government made their business models fundamentally un-workable.
    For this reason, the Government must play a part in helping as many businesses (that are fundamentally sound) to survive as possible.

    • And buy into them to prevent their ‘too big to fail’ crap to ever happen again and ensure Kiwis get good affordable service, right?

      NEW ZEALANDERS FIRST !!!

      – And not some other foreign bastard and their shareholders !!!

      • Let’s be clear, it is theasy government that have forced them to fail.
        Furthermore I am talking about all viable businesses big and small, not specifically multi nationals.

        • Yeah well I’m talking about multi nationals.

          As for small to middling sized NZ company’s- give em a hand. As for former Utilitys, re nationalize em.

          Glad we clarified that.

          • No we didn’t because these companies including the utilities are suffering directly because of what the Government did.
            Exactly where is the equity in that?
            I get that practically everyone here is a communist or at least a hard left socialist. However, in the real world where EVERYONE deserves to be treated fairly, how does the government get to destroy peoples businesses and walk away?

  10. Dunno about Fletchers, but TV3 has just announced re-‘National’ising Paul Henry and bringing him back for a four nights a week talk show. I thought they were running out of money! Paul is not cheap!
    Or has that right-wing manipulator from Hawkes Bay (name escapes me) fronted up with the idea and the money?
    And maybe it spells ‘time’ for wilting breakfast resident TV3 Nat drummers Garner and Richardson – here’s hoping!
    Must be election year!

  11. I cant but help myself from posting this again here, but …”Never allow a good crisis go to waste. It’s an opportunity to do the things you once thought were impossible.”

    Its looking more and more like, as each day of the C19 Crisis passes. Labour just dont got it. They just cant let go of “Rogernomics”.

    • Fuck no! Keep Stoner Twyford the fuck away from running anything!

      Maybe he could do ok with a lemonade stand outside his place in Tat North? You know, baby steps …

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