The Government's best brains need to quickly develop a state-owned "private equity type" fund to take "shares" in prime Kiwi companies to stop them being scooped up by foreign predators at share prices depressed by the Covid-19 crisis.
There is no reason why a Kiwi version of the Singapore Government's Temasek Holdings could not be set up to actively introduce new capital for distressed New Zealand companies where local private players do not step up to the mark.
The "Government" shares could then be sold on to local KiwiSaver funds and other such investors once distressed companies have been restructured so they would still come through this crisis in predominantly NZ hands.
Various versions of this approach were floated at the time of the Global Financial Crisis.
The "private equity operator" idea is undeniably nationalistic.
But Kiwi companies like Tourism Holdings are currently sitting ducks. So, too Fletcher Building — in the news over its pay cut arrangements. Even media companies like NZME, publisher of the Herald — are in the Government's frame for a "medium term" solution as (finally) politicians wise up to the reality that it is New Zealand journalists that are bringing Kiwis all the details they need to ride successfully through this crisis rather than the platform companies — Facebook and Google — who enjoy a virtually free ride on the NZ taxpayer, and (for that matter) on the back of editorial content they do not produce.
There is a fundamental question to address. That is how many "New Zealand" companies will be left in control of their own future as the effect of the coronavirus crisis continues to wreak damage to the NZ economy and the looming global recession bites hard.
Ten days ago, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg introduced a temporary clampdown on foreign investment in his country to prevent international raids on Australian assets and protect the national interest during the coronavirus pandemic.
For the duration of the coronavirus crisis, all proposed foreign investments into Australia which are subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 will require Foreign Investment Review Board approval, regardless of the value or the nature (or country of origin) of the foreign investor.
This nationalistic step was met with broad approval by Australians.
Draft legislation is currently in the NZ Parliament which introduces a national interest test for foreign investment here.
But that is not sufficient of itself.
The Singapore Government established its holdings company in 1974. The initial portfolio was worth $350m comprising shares in companies, start-ups and joint ventures previously held directly by the Government.
By putting the assets into a commercial company, the Singapore Government hoped to free up its Ministry of Finance to concentrate on its core role of policy-making and leave Temasek to own and manage these investments on a commercial basis.
Arguably the NZ Super Fund could have done something like this. To a degree it has with its co-investments with Infratil in infrastructure assets. But its risk appetite is governed by the need to grow revenue to smooth future National Super flows.
This may not be top of mind right now as the Government ramps up multibillion-dollar debt to keep New Zealanders in work.
But irrespective of the nature of the Government's wage subsidy scheme — which is at a pro rata level significantly lower compared to Australia's more generous wage and salary handouts — there is not sufficient acknowledgment of the value the taxpayer is providing to keep firms going.
The Government has insisted that firms which are not "essential services" effectively close-up shop on an interim basis as the nation endeavours to bring this dreadful virus under control. It has already provided a cordon sanitaire to give directors breathing space from their obligations not to knowingly trade their companies while insolvent.
Those are useful first steps but it could do so much more.