NZ Post

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

NZ Post has warned 2012 is crunch time, with the state-owned enterprise needing hundreds of millions of dollars in capital for subsidiary Kiwibank as well as flexibility to cut store numbers and halt post delivery on some days.

I’ve always wondered if Kiwibank actually delivers a return on capital greater than the cost of capital. What would be very interesting is an analysis of Kiwibank’s profits since inception, compared to the cost of capital (Treasury bond rates). Ideally such an analysis should exclude profits from the bill payment service they operate, as that was operated by NZ Post before Kiwibank was set up.

A key element would be a review of the Deed of Understanding (DOU), which stipulates NZ Post must maintain six-day-a-week delivery to most of the 1.9 million “delivery points” and operate a network of no less than 880 outlets.

I’m okay with fewer delivery days and fewer stores.

However, mail volumes are in free fall. It had forecast a drop of 5 per cent a year as the long-term trend to electronic mail bit. But in the six months to the end of December 2011 the decline had steepened to 7 per cent; the fastest ever, “which may be the new norm”, Cullen said. “The trend will not reverse and cannot be ignored.”

it is a dying business model.

But while a cut to delivery days is not imminent, the NZ Post board is keen for planning to start. A shift to deliveries every second day could be on the table over the next two to three years. Cullen said the DOU, as it stood, limited the changes that could be made.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday would be fine. If anything is needed the next day you tend to courier it.

So far the NZ Post parent has poured $550m into the bank, but as its own profitability declines that is seen as unsustainable.

Again, an analysis of returns vs cost of capital would be very interesting. If Kiwibank’s profits do not exceed the cost of capital, then the taxpayer us effectively subsidising Kiwibank customers.

“Our preference would be for the Crown to inject capital, providing we are able to satisfy them that they will get a long-term return on that capital, which we believe they will, and that it fits with the Government’s overall economic strategy.”

One source of new capital could be the proceeds from partial asset sales.

That would be ironic. I’d love to see Labour complain about that.

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