A Zoo of Animals for Sale

So while Governor Powes Parkop plans to build his Zoo for Port Moresby one has to wonder how we will find the expertise to manage such exotic creatures as flamingos, zebras and white tigers just to name a few. Another person who also had animal management issues was Noah, but he had some backup with God on his side so that must’ve been how he managed to look after all those creatures great and small on his ark.

Now there’s another type of Zoo in PNG which Sir Mekere has recently discovered called ‘IPBC’ and news on the pumpkin vine is that the Zoo of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) has sold one-fifth of its shareholding in its ‘green elephant’ called Bank South Pacific (BSP) to the International Finance Corporation at a below market value. The sale of the poor elephant was reported to be at a loss of K12.7 million.

This was revealed by the Opposition Leader Sir Mekere Morauta in Parliament during question time yesterday.
His questions were prepared for the Minister for Public Enterprise (and Park Ranger) Arthur Somare but forwarded to the Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu since the Minister was absent from the chambers.

Sir Puka said he would advise ‘Park Ranger’ Somare to present a more comprehensive report of the IPBC’s decision on the floor of Parliament. Sir Mekere said as reported to the Port Moresby Stock Exchange, IPBC sold these shares at 63 toea when the current market price was 69 toea and questioned why it was necessary to sell BSP shares in such a hurry at lower than the market price.

“If the Minister wanted to sell BSP [elephant] shares, it could have been sold a year ago when the [animal market] price was at K1.30 – it even hit K1.40 in 2008. Had it been sold before at K1.30, IPBC would have received K275 million, not K133 million – more than double the current deal,” Sir Mekere said.

He told Parliament that the sale by IPBC ‘Zoo’ at lower than ‘animal’ market price had the potential to bring down the ‘animal’ market price, wiping thousands of kina off the value of investments in BSP ‘elephant’ shares held by many small Papua New Guinea ‘animal’ investors.

Sir Mekere said the sale of ‘elephant’ shares just 17 days before BSP’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for May 21, did not seem to be a good time due to loss of dividend entitlements to IPBC ‘Zoo’, which should be a sizeable amount.

“I hear that IPBC [Zoo] is strapped for cash. Is it broke, like many of the animals in its cage including Telikom, bemobile, Post PNG and Air Niugini.

“And if IPBC [Zoo] is strapped for cash what confidence could anyone have in IPBC’s management capacity and investment knowledge to hold PNG’s 19 per cent share in PNG LNG (Kroton), Oil Search, BSP and in the other animals I just mentioned…this country should be very worried.”

Sir Mekere also asked why IPBC ‘Zoo’ was operating in an office in Brisbane on Level 19 of the Brisbane Club Towers, 241 Adelaide Street and whether it was to get around the labour laws, so foreigners could be employed without work permits.

He asked whether it was for the convenience of the absentee CEO and asked ‘Park Ranger’ Somare to justify the existence of this office and how much it was costing the people of Papua New Guinea – the total cost, rental, running costs and staff.

Now sounds like things might be going bananas at the IPBC ‘Zoo’ so I pray to God to help ‘Park Ranger’ Arthur Somare, like he did Noah, to at least save all the other animals especially that beautiful rhinoceros called ‘Oil Search shares’ which is tied to fixed rate exchangeable bonds in exchange for the US$1.1 billion for our investment in the LNG Project.

But the thing is, if ‘Park Ranger’ Somare really needs some spare cash they could have easily just sold the white Falcon which was bought for K120 million just last year.

See Also: Father and Son asked to explain IPBC Deal