Solid Energy down the gurgler | The Jackal

22 Feb 2013

Solid Energy down the gurgler

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Solid Energy is at a crisis point, with a Government bailout almost inevitable, mine closures possible and further job cuts likely in another restructure to try to salvage the debt-ridden coal mining company.

The state-owned enterprise yesterday revealed it was in talks with its banks and the Government over its future after its debt rose to $389 million and a further "significant loss" would be in its half-year result.

Know we know the reason Solid Energy CEO resigned earlier this month... The company was going down the gurgler under Don Elder's mismanagement, and just like Jenny Shipley with Mainzeal, the coward Elder has turned tail and run.

No longer is there any accountability for the mismanagement that has caused these businesses to go into such debilitating debt... Instead the perpetrators simply get off scott free with a huge wad of cash to boot.

In 2012 Elder received performance pay of $304,129 on top of his $805,640 pay packet at the same time Solid Energy posted a $40 million loss and sacked 437 workers.

You would expect that such a huge amount of money would ensure the proper management of these companies, and that performance pay was related to them actually performing well... But alas that's not the case.

Finance Minister Bill English said the banks had taken action because they were concerned about getting their money back - and he would not rule out a bailout by the Government, saying it would not let the company fall into receivership.

He would also not rule out job losses among the workforce of 1200 and mine closures in a future restructure aimed at returning the firm to its core business of coal mining but with much lower overheads.

So National is planning to throw good money after bad and bail out another failing business... How stupid!

With the demand for coal likely to continue falling because of the huge increase in renewable energy projects around the world, which are increasing by more than 80% per year, Solid Energy's future is clearly in doubt. There's simply no future in coal and the sooner the government wakes up to that fact the better.

Mr English said the SOE was now worth "a lot less" than the $1.7 billion it was valued at last year, but he did not know whether it was worth more than its $389 million debt.

WTF! A company that was valued at $1.7 billion last year is, according to the Finance Minister, now only worth around $389 million? Even accounting for the 40% decline in coal prices the company should not have devalued that much.

This looks to be yet another case of asset stripping and making questionable investments to businesses that the board knew would never pay off. I guess the National cronies will do just about anything to get their hands on even more public money... What a bunch of bludgers!