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BusinessDesk: Strategic Finance investors get another 1.5 cents in the dollar, receiver says

BusinessDesk: Strategic Finance investors get another 1.5 cents in the dollar, receiver says

Investors in failed property lender Strategic Finance got paid another 1.5 cents in every dollar they had put into the failed lender this month, and are still facing a best-case scenario of getting back just 26% of their principal, according to the latest receiver's report.

Some 10,000 investors owed NZ$367.8 million have been paid 8.5 cents in the dollar, or NZ$31.3 million, of their principal, and receivers John Fisk and Colin McCloy of PwC have kept their forecast recovery of between 12 percent and 26 percent in their latest update on the failed finance company. Between Sept. 11 and March 12 the receivers recorded $2.1 million in receipts from the loan book, taking total recoveries to about $31 million.

"We iterate that realising property in the New Zealand market remains challenging and on a number of the loans, secured over property, it is difficult to assess the level of recovery," the report said. "This is particularly so for development and coastal properties, of which SFL (Strategic Finance) is heavily exposed."

In March, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) said it dropped its investigation into the late Jock Hobbs, a former All Black and Strategic Finance director, after the extent of his cancer was made apparent to it. At the time, the market watchdog is still looking at the failed lender but has yet to decide on whether to lay charges.

The receivers have launched marketing campaigns for property in Gulf Harbour, Fiji, Northland where Strategic holds loans over the sites and is likely to recover funds from any sale. They are also undertaking remedial work or securing resource consents on property in Northland, Australia and the Coromandel in preparation of putting the lots to market.

Strategic’s transactions came under scrutiny in December 2009 when former Act Party MP and former associate Commerce Minister John Boscawen told the Parliament that the finance company misrepresented about NZ$68 million worth of debt which it classified as second mortgages when they were effectively a third-ranking security.

The receiver said it has concerns over "several transactions undertaken during February 2007 to August 2008" and is assessing whether to proceed with legal action.

The finance company was put in receivership in March 2010 after missing a milestone repayment, ending a moratorium arrangement that had been in place since the end of 2008.

It had tried to get out of trouble in a Hanover-style debt-for-equity swap with South Canterbury Finance that would’ve given Strategic investors a mix of SCF debentures, shares and preference shares, but Perpetual Trust chose to call in the receivers instead.

As part of its series of investigations into all failed finance companies, the Securities Commission, the FMA's predecessor, said it began probing Strategic in August 2008. That's when the company, blaming tough conditions in the property market, froze repayments to investors who subsequently approved a moratorium in December 2008 that aimed to repay them 100% of their principal investments plus interest through asset realisations over five years.

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