Article appeared in the March Edition of the NZ Printer Magazine about our book: Takeaway – The Sale of the Government Printing Office. 

The aftermath following the sale of this New Zealand Crown asset in the early 1990s saw a Commission of Inquiry conducted due to the poorly conceived sale process. The inquiry found poor judgement on the part of the Labour Government Ministers of the day, incompetence from the departments and consultants that were responsible that resulted in massive costs being incurred from a process that was drawn out over two years.

Takeaway – The Sale of the Government Printing Office revisits the GPO in the 1980s and examines what went wrong that led to a profitable printing, publishing and stationery business being sold for much less than it was worth.

WAIRARAPA TIMES AGE

This year marks 30 years since the sale of the New Zealand Government Printing Office. It also marks the end of another era of printing in Masterton, with a proposal made this week to axe 44 jobs at what is now Webstar, Masterton.

Following the sale of the GPO to Graeme Hart’s Rank Group in 1990 the Masterton factory survived intact for a further five years before the business was sold to Blue Star. The follow-on from that was the closure of the sheetfed printing factory which left only the web offset printing plant in the Wairarapa which was renamed Webstar.

Takeaway – the Sale of the Government Printing Office looks at the Masterton printing facility prior to the sale that not only produced general printing, forms and stationery but also produced over three million phone books per year.

At the time the annual sales revenue from this business alone was more than the Crown received from the sale process.

New eBook Launched

dande1st.com have published the ebook version of Takeaway – the Sale of the Government Printing Office which coincides with the 30th anniversary of the first Government Asset Sale in New Zealand when on January 24, 1990, the Crown and Graeme Hart of the Rank Group signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement for the Government Printing Office that was to come into effect on January 31, 1990.

The signing of the Sale and Purchase Agreement was the beginning of the end of a poorly conceived sale process that was drawn out over two years. But even following the signing of the agreement it took a further 10 months before the Crown were able to fully complete their obligations which would allow Rank full management of the business. But the Agreement signed on January 24 allowed for the Rank Group to take all the profits of the business even though they had only paid a small deposit and during that time the GPO sales turnover was more than the profit the Government made on the sale of this business asset.

To make matters worse for the Crown, Rank managed to get out of paying any interest on the balance of the money owing when they offered to help finalise issues that the government departments and consultants responsible were having. This amounted to Rank saving a further $1.5 million. Rank also were able to save over $2 million off their original bid for the business following an audit after the sale. The purchase of this Government asset was the springboard that was to launch Rank into the country’s wealthiest investment business that 30 years on is worth more than the national debt reduction the assets sales programme was supposed to achieve.

Takeaway – The sale of The Government Printing Office revisits the GPO in the 1980s of change and looks at what went wrong with the sale process and the effects and aftermath the sale created for the business, that years later triggered a Commission of Inquiry due to the very poor sale result that was less than the cost of the sale process itself and led to a profitable printing, publishing and stationery business being sold for much less than it was worth.

Available now as an ebook.

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Supporting Landing Page: Labours Mistakes