Heartland credit rating put on negative outlook over earnings, property loans
By Paul McBeth
Aug. 12 (BusinessDesk) – Heartland New Zealand Ltd., the lender formed in the merger of Marac Finance with the
Canterbury and Southern Cross building societies, has been put on notice by rating agency Standard & Poor’s over its earnings outlook and legacy loans.
The would-be bank’s investment grade BBB- rating, which it needs to secure a banking licence, was put on negative
outlook today, with S saying it needs o see an “improvement in Heartland’s earnings and in Heartland managing down its exposure to the legacy
property development book,” it said in a statement. Management is focusing its efforts on addressing these areas,
“The change in outlook does not imply any deterioration in underlying risk, but rather reflects the rating agency’s
desire to see faster improvement in earnings and exit of the legacy property development book,” the company said.
That comes two weeks after the lender said net profit was between $6 million and $8 million in the 12 months ended June
30, and that this will shoot up to between $20 million and $24 million next financial year when it takes on the PGG
Wrightson Finance unit.
Heartland will pay for the Wrightson unit by raising $35 million from existing shareholders, via a share purchase plan,
in a deal underwritten by Pyne Gould Corp. for $10 million and by Impact Capital Management, a private company
representing interests of South Island investors, the Tomlinson family.
PGG Wrightson Ltd. and Pyne Gould will each buy $10 million of shares in Heartland through private placements.
Wrightson is carving out some $96.5 million of loans into a special purpose vehicle to refinance or realise those assets
in the short- to medium-term, and will provide a $30 million guarantee on certain loans sold to Heartland. According to
Wrightson’s first-half results, impaired and past due loans amounted to $111.6 million.
In June, the New Zealand Shareholders’ Association said the $100 million acquisition undervalued the $491 million loan
Heartland’s shares were unchanged at 58 cents, and have dropped 34% this year.