SCF receivership gathers speed

By Anne Gibson

Photo / Sarah Ivey
Photo / Sarah Ivey

The receivership of South Canterbury Finance is heating up as more assets are readied for sale and the result of a fraud probe into Aorangi Securities looms.

SCF's receivers have started preparing the huge business and consumer loan book for sale, after putting the $200 million Face Finance on the market this month, in an attempt to retrieve the taxpayers' $1.6 billion paid to SCF investors last year.

Today statutory managers Grant Thornton are due to issue the sixth update on Allan Hubbard's Aorangi Securities and Hubbard Managed Funds, moving for the first time from monthly to three-monthly reports.

Separately, the Serious Fraud Office might announce its next move on Aorangi, after information was received from Hubbard's lawyers at Russell McVeagh.

Kerryn Downey of SCF receivers McGrathNicol said due diligence had started on the big business and consumer specialist financier, in moves to cash up assets of New Zealand's largest lender.

The loan book will hit the market with other huge SCF assets including the country's biggest dairy farming operation NZ Dairy Holdings, the largest apple exporter Scales and Helicopters New Zealand with a dominant position in aviation.

Downey said the loan book would go on the market in the next few months and although he was reluctant to say how much money was involved, he did detail its size and geographic reach.

"In the case of Face there are about 85 files but in this next part of the business there are hundreds. It's right throughout New Zealand, predominantly in the South Island. We have a lot of pre-sale preparation to do," he said.

SCF declared in 2009 it had loaned $477.8 million "to a vast range of businesses involved in manufacturing, professional services, fishing, tourism, hospitality and importing/exporting business".

But SCF loaned extensively to Hubbard. Its single largest loan, $79.4 million, went to his Southbury Group. Even worse, SCF extended extremely generous terms which could make Downey's job harder.

"The majority of loans in this sector, by value, are interest-only loans with interest being paid on a regular basis during the term of the loan and the principal being repaid on maturity," SCF declared of its business book.

SCF's consumer division loaned $78.4 million for boats, cars, home improvements and personal activities in amortising loans which returned interest and principal over the terms, usually three to four years.

The Aorangi/Hubbard update from statutory managers Grant Thornton is not expected to contain much good news.

Progress has been extremely slow, the accounts are complicated and incomplete and while the managers worked during December and January, many other businesses shut.

The last update, issued by Richard Simpson, Trevor Thornton and Graeme McGlinn on November 26, revealed that only one in five borrowers is paying interest on their loans to Aorangi.

One source close to SCF's windup predicted the SFO would announce this week the results of its Aorangi investigations after receiving scans of Hubbard's brain.

Adam Feeley, SFO chief executive, said this month that his office had finished its investigations, was talking to Hubbard's lawyers and would soon make a decision.

WHAT COMES NEXT

* McGrathNicol, SCF receivers: Selling business/consumer loan business.
* Grant Thornton, SCF statutory managers: About to issue sixth report.
* Serious Fraud Office: Due to announce Aorangi Securities probe result.

- NZ Herald

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