South Canterbury bond speculators reap fat reward as finance firm fails
By Paul McBeth
Aug. 31 (BusinessDesk) – Bargain hunters who bet against South Canterbury Finance in the NZX debt market will be rubbing
their hands with glee today with the guarantee covering the failed financier’s listed bonds plus interest.
The Timaru-based finance company called in the receivers today, triggering the government’s retail deposit guarantee
which will pay out the face value for the firm’s debenture and bond holders.
Prices for the company’s listed bond maturing in 2012, after the extended guarantee, fell to a deep discount earlier
this year, with the yield reaching 40% in March. That meant audacious punters could buy them cheap and get paid out in
full if South Canterbury failed.
“There will be a lot of money made in the listed bonds with prices up to 20, 30 and 40 percent, which was all paid
today,” chief executive Sandy Maier said in a conference call. “A lot of bets in the casino paid off big time today.”
The yield had abated in recent weeks, and was last at 24% before trading in the security was suspended. The government
will have to pay-out $125 million on the bonds.
Maier said the guarantee, which many commentators claim distorts the market, gave him confidence to accept money from
“widows and children” as he sought to save the company from collapse.
The failure of the finance sector has seen a number of low-ball offers for debenture stock, and prompted the Securities
Commission to warn investors to make an informed decision before accepting bids significantly below face value.