Fran O'Sullivan gives Micahel Cullen a good, old-fashioned kicking this morning over this week's revelations that he ignored Treasury's advice over the Auckland International Airport partial sale. Here 'tis: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/466/story.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10506424&pnum=0
"Auckland airport investors may have strong grounds to take a class action suit against the Government for the losses they suffered through Finance Minister Michael Cullen's intervention in the Canadian Pension Plan's partial bid.
It has now been revealed that Treasury strongly recommended against Government intervention to stop the Canadian fund's partial bid for Auckland Airport - a bid that if it had proceeded would have put a total of $1.72 billion into the pockets of shareholders.
Cullen initially asked Treasury to come up with legislation to constrain foreign ownership in the airport to 20 per cent for an individual shareholder (the Mounties had succeeded in their bid for 40 per cent) and impose other conditions.
But what has generally escaped notice is that Treasury also drew Cullen's attention to a potential liability in Auckland Airport shareholders' eyes - for the on-paper losses they would suffer if the Canadian bid was quashed by Government intervention."
$1.72 billion!! Sheeee-ittt! I'd be suing as well if Cullen's quest for power "whatever it takes" had hit me in the pocket as it has for all those small investors who were happy to sell. And Cullen was specifically advised of the government's potential liability, but pressed on regardless. But wait, it gets worse:
"But the crucial factor as far as the NZX is concerned is that Treasury also noted the Auckland Airport share price was likely to drop immediately following an announcement and existing shareholders were likely to see the Government as responsible for the immediate loss in value of their shares and as such, "potentially liable for the full difference between the new share price and the full value of the CPPIB offer".
Instead of legislation, Treasury suggested amending overseas investment regulations which would present New Zealand with less risk of being in breach of bilateral and multi-lateral obligations.
Shareholders now know Cullen never had any intention of allowing the Canadian bid to go through.
It is arguable that another reason Cullen opted for the fallback option was to try to prevent shareholders from seeking redress."
So Cullen not only was AWARE of potential liability for investors's losses - he acted in such a way as to shut off options for redress! And we are expected to trust him to deliver tax cuts. Sorry Slippery Mikey, but trust has to be earned, and you have got a loooooooooong way to go!!