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South Canterbury Finance will seek govt guarantee extension

South Canterbury Finance, will seek cover under the government's extended retail deposit guarantee after it released a new prospectus earlier this week.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

by Paul McBeth

The prospectus revealed chairman Hubbard came to the rescue of the finance company once more, and he has personally injected around a quarter of a billion dollars into South Canterbury over the past three years.

However, this will probably be the 81-year-old's last hurrah, as he announced he will be retiring as chairman within 12 months as the company brings on two independent directors to the board - one of whom will take up the role as chair - and bolster its management team.

The prospectus revealed the finance company will look to raise as much as $75 million in a private placement, and it is also considering selling off its dairy farming assets.

The prospectus was released after South Canterbury Finance organised a repayment plan in installments to U.S. investors owed US$100 million after the company's credit rating was down-graded to a BB+ and put on negative creditwatch. Hubbard's Southbury Group will foot the penalty to the tune of US$15 million.

South Canterbury Finance also reaffirmed its commitment to meeting the Reserve Bank's capital ratio requirements through the recapitlisation plan, and is confident that it will be taken off rating agency Standard & Poor's negative creditwatch after releasing the prospectus, allowing it to raise new funds.

Like Marac, South Canterbury Finance is moving away from property lending, which left a large hole in its financial statements due to impaired loans, though due to the lack of liquidity in the market it recognises this will be a gradual process.

It also said it would reduce its level of related party loans by at least $50 million.


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