Wednesday, 06 March 2024 09:55

Editorial: Pamu's challenge

Written by  Staff Reporters
State Owned Enterprises Minister Paul Goldsmith. State Owned Enterprises Minister Paul Goldsmith.

OPINION: The Government is sending a clear signal to state-owned farming giant, Pamu (Landcorp) that things must change.

Like all other SOE’s, Pamu’s success and financial performance must be as profitable and efficient as comparable businesses not owned by the state. In other words, Pamu must do better and be in the top tier when it comes to performance by a diversified farming group.

The recent announcement that Pamu made a half-year net profit of $3m, compared to $15m the previous year, didn’t go down well with the new Government, which is already signalling cuts to civil servant numbers in Wellington.

SOE Minister Paul Goldsmith isn’t satisfied with Pamu’s performance, and for its part, Pamu is listening: the management and board say they look forward to receiving the letter of expectations from Goldsmith.

While the coalition Government has no agreement to sell Pamu, history shows that the thought has crossed National’s mind. In September 2017, on the eve of the general election, National announced that it would sell Pamu if re-elected. It is believed the announcement came as a surprise to many at the time, including Pamu’s board.

So, should Pamu not perform to expectations, National could have another look to offload the company that manages 360,000ha, which includes 83 companyowned farms and 27 leaseholds. There will be no shortage of buyers.

Pamu is a successful business and a large employer with 630 permanent staff and another 300 casuals during seasonal peaks. Over any 12 months, it farms 1.3 million sheep, deer and cattle.

To its credit, Pamu has performed well with net profit after tax of $33m last financial year, compared to $22m the year before.

However, the new Government wants Pamu to lift its game and deliver even better returns. Cabinet will soon sign off on a new chair for the Pamu board.

The ball with then be in Pamu’s court.

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