South Canterbury Finance Chairman Allan Hubbard has told the troubled finance company's annual meeting in Timaru today that Chief Executive Lachie McLeod will leave the company to pursue farming interests and be replaced on an interim basis by Timaru chartered accountant Nigel Gormack. (Update 3 includes comments from McLeod). South Canterbury said McLeod would finish on November 30 and be succeeded by Gormack (pictured left), who is a fellow director of Hubbard in Hubbard Churcher Trust Management Ltd, Companies Office records show. South Canterbury said it would look for a new permanent CEO to lead it next year when the group would be recapitalised, although it gave no new details of when that might be. "The last 18 months have been particularly turbulent for the finance industry with pressures unleashed by the global financial crisis, new regulations and the difficult trading environment," McLeod said in a statement released by South Canterbury. "South Canterbury Finance is now on a more stable footing with a diversified portfolio of assets that will underpin its future. This is the right time to find and establish a new Chief Executive who can oversee the recapitalisation that will take place next year, position for the implementation of the new regulatory framework and meet the new challenges the industry will face."
McLeod will continue to work with South Canterbury Finance as a consultant until a new Chief Executive is appointed. McLeod would then work as a consultant to the other business interests of Hubbard. Hubbard said he fully understood the reasons for McLeod's decision to resign. "Lachie has provided leadership to guide the Company through this difficult period and worked tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome for investors, shareholders and staff. On behalf of the directors I thank him for all he has done." McLeod said he would be focusing on his family and farming interests when his day to day involvement with the group ended. The Timaru Herald reported the following from the meeting.
The group, controlled by veteran Timaru businessman Hubbard, is looking to raise more than $100 million as it strives to get back on an even keel and reduce exposure to troubled property loans. Hubbard, also controlling shareholder of the Southbury Group, said on October 31 SCF and Southbury would probably announce restructure and recapitalisation plans by the middle or end of November. Southbury would probably float on the sharemarket in February-March 2010. The float would involve the entities that made up Southbury, and possibly also two other companies. Broker Forsyth Barr is helping organise the float details, though how much had to be raised was yet to be decided. The Southbury Group components included Dairy Holdings and Helicopters NZ. The group also includes Scales Corp.