Summary The big week for AGMs closes with Ports of Tauranga, Sky City and Genesis Energy holding theirs today. Business response to shortened MIQ stays has been muted.
MIQ response Relaxing managed isolation and quarantine rules for travellers is a small step to adapting to a higher risk of community covid transmission, rather than the main threat being the virus coming through the border. That's the general response to the government's announced cut of managing isolation and quarantine (MIQ) stays from 14 to seven days, effective from Nov 14, as the first stage in transitioning to a home isolation system early next year. However, the consensus is that the changes aren't rapid enough to help businesses or get people stuck outside NZ back home.
So Meta Facebook is changing its name to Meta as the parent company for Facebook, WhatsApp, and Oculus. The name is taken from a sci-fi term referring to the metaverse, an interactive series of interconnected, virtual worlds. “Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers,” Zuckerberg said. Zuckerberg The under-fire tech firm chose Meta because it can mean “beyond” and captures its commitment to building social technologies that take us beyond what digital connection makes possible today, he said.
Electricity review surprise Energy sector analysts are puzzled by the Electricity Authority’s (EA) wholesale electricity market review, with Forsyth Barr expressing surprise that the EA’s main concern about the wholesale electricity market was a one-off deal between generators and a major user, with other aspects of the review inconclusive. Analyst Andrew Harvey-Green said: “We struggle with the EA's analysis for many reasons.” The analysis ignored that the Manapouri dam was built to supply the smelter, Meridian had no other customers to take the power in the short term and the smelter was a major user in a strong negotiating position until transmission capacity was increased and/or other customers could be found. Jarden was also surprised at the EA singling out the Tiwai deal.
Genesis AGM Genesis Energy holds its AGM today in the aftermath of the EA’s review that opened the door to the potential splitting of gentailers. The review found the current market framework may incentivise companies to avoid investing in new generation, instead maximising the return on assets. Genesis has made no comment on the review, but has been highlighting its investment in generation in the past few months.
Vector voting Voting closes today for the trust that controls Auckland’s electricity lines company Vector. It is a particularly interesting election this year, as a new, environmentally-focused group is attempting to take over.
Ports update Ports of Tauranga holds its AGM today with ongoing supply chain disruption, port congestion and port worker covid vaccination likely to be on the agenda. In recent months, up to 19 ships have been forced to wait at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour. The port has also been hit by KiwiRail, relied on by the port company to shift freight to its Auckland inland port, raising the price of transporting freight to Auckland. KiwiRail will also start passing on its new track user charge from next month. This calendar year has seen the port’s share price decline from a high of $7.08 to $6.70.
SkyCity snapshot SkyCity’s ongoing daily profit loss of up $1 million a day due to Auckland’s and Hamilton’s lockdown will be under the microscope as it holds its AGM today. SkyCity’s net profit of $156.1m was down 34% on last year partly due to the convention centre fire, and its share price has fluctuated between $2.87 and $3.66 for most of the year.
Rugby protest Former All Blacks and musician Neil Finn have joined a 100-signature open letter to NZ Rugby protesting its sponsorship deal with oil, plastics and gas company Ineos. The All Blacks, Black Ferns, Maori All Blacks and other teams will wear the British petrochemical giant’s logo for six years.
Virus sickies A super-cold is sweeping Britain as winter approaches there, and respiratory illnesses are up probably due to lack of immunity because of social distancing during the past two years. Employers are being hit as the cold, which is difficult to shake and shares many symptoms with covid, keeps staff away from work. About 75% of children have now been infected with covid, with half of those infected in the past six weeks.
Light rail resuscitation A controversial light rail plan for Auckland has been resuscitated with a price tag more than ten times the original and timeframes also blown out. The government working group that has been redeveloping the plan since March, has come back with three options. The group has recommended an underground hybrid that would cost $14.6 billion and would see a tram running underground to Mt Roskill, then overground to the airport. All three options would require construction in the city centre, Māngere and Onehunga.
Procurement puzzle Ian McCrae, CEO and founder of Orion Health, has come out swinging against the auditor-general’s refusal to investigate the Ministry of Health’s procurement of the National Immunisation Service and Covid-19 Immunisation Register. “What is the point of the Office of the Auditor-General if they don’t audit?” he said. “I find it hard to believe that the OAG believes there isn’t anything worth investigating. Especially, when Orion Health isn’t the only company raising serious MOH procurement issues." McCrae said the procurement process was a “Wellington whitewash that shows New Zealand ministries do not need to follow their own procurement rules". McCrae has condemned the $38m cost to update the national vaccination system and claimed covid-19 had been used as an excuse to dodge the usual procurement process to award the work to Deloitte and Salesforce. The ministry also hasn't revealed who it is using to build the new digital vaccine certificate platform. McRae says the auditor-general's letter actually raises new issues. "For example, the OAG’s letter confirms that Deloitte was working on their solution when Orion Health was asked to respond in writing to the ministry’s immunisation requirements. Ask yourself, does this sound like a predetermined outcome?"
Markets update US equities wavered slightly higher in early afternoon trading, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq up 1.1%, the Dow Jones up 0.5%, and the S&P 500 up 0.8%. Stronger than expected earnings from Merck and heavy construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar, plus expected strong earnings from Apple and Amazon were behind the rises. The FTSE 100 closed down a tiny 0.1%, held between a price drop for Royal Dutch Shell, and BP that missed quarterly profit predictions, and higher than expected earnings from Lloyds Banking Group and ad firm WPP. The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.2% up on stronger than expected quarterly earnings from beer brewer Anheuser-Busch and the IT sector. It was held back by falling prices for Volkswagon due to fears over supply chain disruption and chip shortages.