Wednesday, 1 July 2009

You haven't got mail

Lord Mandelson has finally faced up to the inevitable and withdrawn the part privatisation of Royal Mail from the parliamentary agenda. He made various bogus and a few truthful claims in his statement. There are no suitable bidders. Market conditions are unfavourable and there just isn't the parliamentary time to get the bill through.

Well, there is plenty of time for the bill to pass. The most parliamentary time there has ever been. Lord M rushed it through the Lords himself in anticipation of an early reading. What there isn't is the backbench will. And they are right. The decision to privatise a nationalised {sort of} industry would cripple the activists trying to get out the core Labour vote next summer.
MP's know its death and they have said so since the idea was mooted last November in the wake of the wide ranging but narrow focus Hooper report. The public are not convinced either.
Claiming there were no suitable bidders reveals that the government price for RM was too high.
{see CU's previous post for lessons learned.}

The Business secretary says that that the partial sell-off would not happen until "later" when market conditions have improved. TNT and Deutchepost pulled out leaving the private equity firms who want to pay little, turn around quick and cash in. That won't help RM.

So if there is to be no part privatisation what is there to be?
Well, nothing. Nothing at all.

Some pretty wild statements were made by the government claiming that Royal Mail could collapse within weeks. Royal Mail "was in danger of running out of money". Dire warnings of the "severe" impact on pensions. That unless urgent investment was received and new management and technology introduced the company would be unable to continue. The universal service must soon end and a foreign company must be bought in.
Now it seems, none of those things are even remotely urgent. Politically Lord Mandelson should have left the whole thing well alone in the first place. From a business perspective there are plenty of issues that he should be tackling outside of privatisation. Everyone from unions to the private mail firms wants changes to the current crippling regulations.

That nothing will be done at all will leave Royal Mail weaker, less profitable, more in debt and less able to deal with the challenges in the future.


Anonymous said...

I had saved up over £50 for some shares - so that every time I sent in a competition entry I made something back...I think that would work don't you?

Blue Eyes said...

"will leave Royal Mail weaker, less profitable, more in debt and less able to deal with the challenges in the future"

At least the socialists are consistent!

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