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South Canterbury reaping '$1 million a week' from distressed assets

Thursday 22nd April 2010

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South Canterbury Finance said it is reaping about $1 million a week from collections and sales of distressed assets while investors are rolling over about $100 million a month.

The Timaru-based firm, which gained a lifeline this month with acceptance into the extended government retail deposit guarantee, is road-showing its new prospectus, with chief executive Sandy Maier touring the country as part of the promotion. South Canterbury has about $460 million of debentures coming due by the end of June and has hinted it may have to sell assets to meet any shortfall in maturities.

“I’m not woefully stressed out about it but I’m working hard through the roadshows,” Maier said in Wellington today. “We’re much closer to being out of the woods now (but) we still have some work to do.”

He said the firm believes it can “handle” the cash demand of maturing debentures and is confident of a strong level of renewals even though feedback during the roadshows is that “the magic of South Canterbury is tarnished.”

He estimates it will take up to three years to sell off all of the bad assets. South Canterbury is aiming to collect about 50 cents in the dollar on distressed assets. By the end of this month, the firm will have liquidated about $200 million of the loan book.

South Canterbury joined Marac Finance, Equity Mortgages, and PGG Wrightson Finance in gaining entry to the extended guarantee, which covers investors’ deposits until the end of 2011.

The firm this month outlined its plans to restructure its business, creating three divisions – a ‘bad’ bank to hold distressed assets, the continuing finance unit and a “private equity-type” unit that holds newly acquired assets such as Helicopters NZ and Scales.

South Canterbury posted an audited first-half net loss of $198.6 million this month, worse than the unaudited $154.9 million loss it announced on March 1.

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