Rates round up: April 23
Hotchin asset freeze remains; Auckland Council gets a rating; F&P Finance rating affirmed; Five Star director pleads guilty
Monday, April 23rd 2012, 10:18AM
by Niko Kloeten
Former Hanover Finance boss Mark Hotchin has failed in a Court of Appeal challenge to a freezing order over his New Zealand assets.
The Financial Markets Authority (then the Securities Commission) obtained the order in December 2010 to ensure funds would available to pay investors in the event of a civil case being taken against Hotchin.
Earlier this year the FMA initiated its own civil proceedings against Hotchin and other former Hanover directors and promoters, seeking both pecuniary penalties and investor compensation for allegedly misleading claims in investor documents and advertisements.
There was a slight reprieve for Hotchin in the Court of Appeal judgment, which allowed some aspects to be removed from the freeze to enable Hotchin to pay a tax bill.
''My family and I are relieved that Justice Winklemann has seen fit to allow our personal effects and household items to be released from the order and agreed with her comments that it was unnecessarily intrusive to our family,'' he said in a media statement.
The Court of Appeal has also required the FMA to report on its progress in the investigation by May 20.
Auckland Council gets a rating
Moody's Investors Service has assigned the Auckland Council an Aa2 credit rating, the third highest, with a stable outlook.
It follows fellow ratings agency Standard & Poor's removing Auckland Council from CreditWatch negative in February and affirming its AA rating - equivalent to Aa2 - with a stable outlook.
"Given the $22 billion, 10-year capital improvement plan, it will be critical for the council to achieve higher operating surpluses, both to constrain debt accumulation and to support the costs of the increased borrowing," Moody's said.
"The council projects that its cash deficits will remain high and average about 24% of revenues annual over the next five years."
F&P Finance rating affirmed
Standard & Poor's has affirmed its ‘BB/B' issuer credit ratings on Fisher & Paykel Finance, while revising its stand-alone credit profile upward to ‘bb+' from ‘bb'. The outlook is stable.
"The outlook reflects our expectation that F&PFL's financial characteristics will remain stable in the medium term", said credit analyst Harry Hu, of the Financial Services Ratings group.
"The potential for negative ratings momentum could arise if we see a weaker-than-expected capital position, deteriorated asset quality, waning banker confidence, or a worsened debenture reinvestment rate that materially impairs F&PFL's funding and liquidity profile.
Five Star director pleads guilty
Convicted former Five Star Finance director Anthony Bowden has pleaded guilty to two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship totalling $50.1 million.
The charges involve two related-party loans totalling $35.9m and $14.2m respectively.
Bowden had earlier been convicted and given nine months' home detention on Financial Markets Authority charges laid under the Securities and Financial Reporting Act.
Niko Kloeten can be contacted at email@example.com
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