Readers, I must admit defeat. I have I think, even if I say so myself, achieved some quite good lines in my quest to succinctly describe the various acts of stupidity committed by Delta at the Noble Subdivision. But recently, an associate (probably keen to cut me down to size !) sent a piece from Fairfax by Tim Hunter, now at the National Business Review, following the Auditor-General’s report in 2014. I saw immediately I had been bested by a better scribe : He memorably described the Delta management as having “commercial acuity about as sharp as a turnip” . That I could reach such cutting brevity !! Mysteriously, no threat of defamation was forthcoming to Mr Hunter….
And as the coast is clear, to honour Mr Hunter, Delta management shall henceforth be referred to as the Delta Turnips….
Your correspondent was intrigued to read of the Lazarus like re-emergence of Luggate Park as a premium lifestyle subdivision destination of choice with prices for sections between $325,000 – $495,000. (Note, no offers are entertained – these are fixed prices say developers Willowridge !) If this goes according to plan, there appears to be a profit even larger than the reported Delta loss of $5.9M* for the enterprising Mr Allan Dippie, the latest owner of the ex Delta land.
Now, your correspondent understands that Mr Dippie may not have as many university degrees as the Delta directors, or possibly not one at all. Mr Dippie does not breathe the same rarefied directorial air as the likes of Mr Stuart McLauchlan, Mr Denham Shale and other ….directors. However Mr Dippie does know his Central Otago subdivision market very well, and further knows that land development sometimes has to be viewed long term, the way a Japanese banker views the deadbeat property loans they made in Tokyo in the 1980s that are still underwater. That is, if you still own the asset you haven’t lost anything, and time will do its work and lift values. The critical thing is to have the courage of your initial convictions, and stay the course. Yes, yes, I know, the Japanese banks are still waiting, but no waiting is required, it seems, in Luggate.
Readers, take a good long draught of Choysa : Delta had TWO choices in 2012 : Sell the land for basically nothing ($1M vs a total Delta investment of around $7M), or…wait until the market improves. Of course, Delta chose to destroy ratepayers’ funds value in a desperate attempt to show ratepayers they had “moved on” and it was all a bad dream –
If Delta had an ounce of the foresight of someone like Mr Dippie, who has been both very successful, and also very patient at times, they would have held the land. A few facts about the land – the 42 entry level sections to be sold in the next stage will be worth around $6M, added to the $9.17M of the 22 premium sections, gives a total of $16.2M. There possibly could be further sections that would increase the value, but the glass is dark on this detail.
After allowing for subdivision infrastructure and selling costs, the land that Delta sold for $1M three years ago would now realise them $9-10M. Yes readers, Delta could have made a genuine, non Aurora subsidised profit and got the civil work they wanted, at good prices. They could have even paid Mr Boult’s bank debt off, paid off the $1.935M bank loan, some interest to DCC treasury and the entire $5.5M advance and still have a bit left over.
What possessed them to act like lemmings jumping off a financial cliff ? Two words … Denham Shale. Mr Shale was the alleged heavy hitter brought in to clean up the Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL) and Delta mess after the Larsen report in 2011, along with Mr Bill Baylis and others. He knew even less about property development than the likes of Mr Ray Polson. L for Learner developers indeed. As Mr Hunter exclaimed, turnip acuity was all around. Mr Shale was of the school that says when you have a mess, a clean out, not a clean up is needed…. A clean up keeps the items that have a chance of retaining value. Mr Shale told Mr Polson to write down the value of Luggate and get shot of it in April 2012. Mr Polson, being the
invertebrate mild mannered accountant he is, then parroted that line to the Delta board a month later. The rest is well known. A bath. This is all in the Auditor-General’s report, in Section 6, for readers that doubt your correspondent.
Mr Denham Shale’s legacy to the City of Dunedin is a $8-9M loss due to turnip advice (aka profoundly stupid advice) to sell land for a fraction of its cost and value. Any developer or person involved in land in Central Otago for any length of time has seen huge fluctuations in value, generally in a 7-year cycle… Your correspondent is one such person, who lays no claim to visions of the future, but who has had to hang tough for extended periods in Central Otago on various deals.
All Delta had to do was talk nicely to DCC Treasury, to explain the $5.5M advance they gave Delta was a couple more years away – they had already waited for five years, who’s counting anyway ? Make an offer to Mr Boult of his 50% share of slightly more than the $1M they received (he had already asked Delta to buy him out having seen the Delta trough was empty), and start paying interest on the $1.935M bank loan. Not difficult. But required some vertebrates.
Mr McLauchlan, Mr Shale, Mr Cameron and the other directors, yes, they all displayed “commercial acuity about as sharp as a turnip”. –How I love that phrase ! This band of Delta Directors could not grasp what to Mr Dippie is as natural as breathing – that they stopped making land a long time ago, around the time of the flood and Noah’s Ark. That people want to live in Central Otago, so therefore the land price will rise, maybe not when you think, but given time rise it will. This, Mr Shale, Mr McLauchlan, and (2014 Young Director of the year) Mr Cameron is called, SUPPLY & DEMAND. Your elementary lack of foresight and myopia has cost the City of Dunedin millions. L is for Learner, T is for Turnip. Which one applies, readers ?
Election Year : This post is offered in the public interest. -Eds
Related Post and Comments:
30.4.16 Luggate à la Dunedin’s lad, Dippie
Inquiry into property investments by Delta Utility Services Limited at Luggate and Jacks Point. Access the Auditor-general’s full report here:
*The ‘Auditor-General’s overview’ states (page 5):
“Delta lost about $5.9 million on the Luggate investment and has projected a loss of about $2.8 million for Jacks Point. These losses are before tax, and Delta expects that they might yet be oﬀ set by tax credits of about $1.5 million for Luggate and about $0.8 million for Jacks Point. If so, the overall loss would be about $6.4 million.”
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
Image: pinterest.com – turnip