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An announcement by troubled South Canterbury Finance (SCF) to the NZX today will have "good and bad in it", company chief executive Sandy Maier says.

SCF owes investors about $1.7 billion, and is believed to be running out of cash.

It has been trying to put together a deal with new backers and is due to make an announcement to the stock exchange today, expected about 9.30am, ahead of a 5pm deadline.

The company warned yesterday there was no certainty that recapitalisation and restructuring proposals would be successful.

Today, Maier told Radio New Zealand the "long running saga" of sorting out the problems of SCF was "not over yet".

"We've been working on a resolution to South Canterbury's problems for nine months. It's been a long process, it certainly will not be over today," Maier said.

There would be some surprises in the announcement.

"There will clearly be winners and losers... There will be some surprises in it. I think overall there will be quite a lot of angst around things today," he said.

The announcement should be viewed as a "progress report".

"I think there'll be good and bad in it."

It was still the position as in yesterday's announcement that there could be no certainty that recapitalisation and restructuring proposals would be successfully implemented.

"That's because these things are a process, they're ongoing. We've had engagement with several investors...the latest piece of this ended at 4.37 this morning," Maier said.

"We have focused more and more on a preferred bidder, but there are still three people who view themselves in the race, actually maybe one or two more than that."

Yesterday Prime Minister John Key was focused on assurances the company's 20,000 investors will get their money back but wouldn't comment on persistent speculation that ministers have found a way to avoid SCF's collapse that doesn't involve a massive injection of taxpayer money.

His announcement that Finance Minister Bill English had delayed a visit to Asia so he could handle today's developments was taken as a sign the Government could still have a card to play.

Key said "a number of parties" had been in contact with the Government offering rescue packages and the Government had a carefully constructed plan to deal with the crisis.

He wouldn't disclose what it was but said there were three objectives - making sure depositors were protected, minimising cost to the taxpayer and ensuring any economic disruption was kept to a minimum.

Speculation last night centred on the possibility that the Government could guarantee the company's bad debts, reported to be roughly on the same scale as the payout that would have to be made to investors if SCF collapsed.

That would allow it to continue trading, but Key's comment that the Government could not "in all conscience" put taxpayers at risk seemed to preclude that.

The company, one of New Zealand's biggest non-bank institutions, is part of the Government's Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme which ensures investors will get their money back, with interest.

Key said if SCF went into receivership the liability could be around $600 million, although that would be offset by assets which would be sold or wound up.

There is $900 million in the scheme, calculated to be enough to cover all the companies which signed up to it.

- NZPA