Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

PGC may look to freeze two funds

Pyne Gould Corporation managing director George Kerr. Photo / Supplied
Pyne Gould Corporation managing director George Kerr. Photo / Supplied

Pyne Gould Corporation is believed to be considering a freeze on two funds which are subject to an investigation by the Financial Markets Authority over related party lending.

Pyne Gould's subsidiary business Perpetual wrote to investors in the Perpetual Cash Management Fund and the Perpetual Mortgage Fund on Saturday informing them of the FMA's engagement and telling them to consider whether they want to retain their investment in the funds.

The FMA revealed last week that it has been in talks with Perpetual since April after concerns were raised by Trustees Executors - the cash fund's statutory supervisor - over a large loan to a related party.

The cash fund lent $28 million, almost half of its money, to Torchlight Fund No 1 LP - a fund set up by Pyne Gould for sophisticated investors. It invests in a range of assets including non-distressed and distressed real estate.

The Herald understands news of the FMA's action, which Pyne Gould went to court to stop the regulator from making public, may have resulted in a run of investors pulling their money out.

According to Perpetual's website, the cash fund had $56.1 million invested in it and the mortgage fund had $66.7 million as of March.

The cash fund was designed to provide investors with an on-call deposit facility so any freeze would cause a major upset to investors who believed they would be able to get their money out quickly.

The website states that the fund invests in bank deposits, short-term bank bills, government and local authority stock and mortgages, both direct and through the Perpetual Mortgage Fund.

Nearly half of the money was invested in mortgages as of March.

Last week, the FMA said since April Torchlight had repaid $15 million but $13 million remained outstanding.

"FMA has sought to minimise losses that investors may suffer by engaging with Perpetual to seek the return of the loans.

"FMA considers Perpetual has now had ample time to secure repayment of the loans, but is concerned at the lack of progress and the consequent risk to investors."

The regulator said it believed investors needed to be aware of its concerns about the loans made by the fund to Torchlight and the delays in repayment so they could make informed decisions about their investments.

Perpetual told investors it did not agree with the FMA's concerns and it believed the loan to Torchlight was a "sound investment" as it was well-secured, short-term and provided an attractive return to the cash fund.

The cash fund is allowed to invest between 30 per cent and 50 per cent in first mortgages and Perpetual said it considered the loan fell into that classification.

Pyne Gould's managing director George Kerr has a controlling stake in the listed company through a 76.3 per cent investment by Australasian Equity Partners.

He is also a director and investor in Torchlight.

Kerr and his investment partner Baker Street Capital have been trying to take over the business.

Pyne Gould had no comment to make as of late yesterday.

TROUBLED YEAR

February

* Pyne Gould managing director George Kerr asks for a $21.6 million loan from the Perpetual Cash Management Fund for related business Torchlight

April

* The loan increases to $28.22 million secured against five development properties in Queenstown and Wanaka

* Trustee Executors reports Pyne Gould to the Financial Markets Authority over concerns with the loan

* Managing director John Duncan resigns suddenly

May

* Pyne Gould's auditor resigns over unresolved differences over related party disclosures

* Financial Markets Authority reveals it has been making inquiries into Pyne Gould

* Pyne Gould granted a confidentiality order

June

* FMA applies to the High Court to revoke the confidentiality order which is then appealed by Pyne Gould

July

* Court of Appeal dismisses appeal and FMA reveals details of its concerns.

- NZ Herald

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