Probe into collapse of rugby star's company

By Anne Gibson

Jock Hobbs. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Jock Hobbs. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Securities Commission has appointed an inspector to probe the collapse of the country's second-largest finance company.

Corporate forensic examinations have started at Strategic Finance - the company run for years by former All Black captain and top rugby administrator Jock Hobbs - which went into receivership in March owing $452 million to 13,000 investors.

It was New Zealand's second-largest finance company collapse, after Bridgecorp.

Mr Hobbs - who yesterday stepped aside as NZ Rugby Union and Rugby New Zealand 2011 chairman to have six months of therapy for leukaemia - was chief executive and remains a director of the company.

Sources close to Strategic yesterday confirmed the investigations, although Securities Commission communication manager Roger Marwick refused to confirm or deny that.

At least one meeting has taken place between receivers in charge of Strategic and the newly appointed inspector.

Possible breaches of the Securities Act are being investigated.

Strategic's money is tied up in several big failed property ventures including the Soho Square project in Ponsonby.

Strategic's next report is due out on July 30 but a letter went to investors yesterday.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said yesterday that Mr Hobbs had medical tests this week and rang on Monday night to reveal that his condition was "quite serious".

The NZRU appointed longtime board member Mike Eagle as acting chairman until its next meeting, on May 27.

Brian Roche has been appointed acting chairman of Rugby NZ 2011, the company organising the World Cup.

Mr Tew was confident Mr Hobbs' absence would not greatly affect progress towards next year's tournament or the NZRU business.

"While Jock's contribution, wisdom and experience will always be missed, we will be fine and get on with it."

Strategic Finance
* Strategic Finance is New Zealand's second-biggest finance company collapse, after Bridgecorp.
* The company owes $452 million to 13,000 mainly elderly investors
* Former All Black captain and top rugby administrator Jock Hobbs was its chief executive.
* Mr Hobbs, who has leukaemia, yesterday stepped down from roles with the NZ Rugby Union and Rugby World Cup organiser Rugby New Zealand 2011.

- NZ Herald

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