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Uncertain future for Fortress notes

Macquarie Fortress New Zealand directors say, in their half-year interim report, the future of its Fortress Notes trust is uncertain.

Tuesday, March 4th 2008, 3:58PM
For the half-year ending 31 December 2007, the trust posted a loss of $6.8 million, down from a profit of $1.9 million a year earlier.

Directors said they considered the trust a going concern at present, "However, there are material uncertainties that may raise doubt about the trust's ability to continue as a going concern."

Between 800 and 1000 New Zealanders have invested $30 million in Macquarie Fortress notes.

Part of the issue raising doubt "includes the ability to arrange refinancing of the underlying portfolio prior to the maturity of its extensive leverage arrangements," the directors said.

Any refinancing of the portfolio would likely lead to a "significant increase in funding costs, which would impact on interest payments (if any) on the notes."

The trust announced it would not pay out the interest it received, keeping the cash flow generated by the portfolio as a precaution against further falls in loan prices.

Notes were issued in 2005 at $1 each, and have recently fallen to an unaudited net value of 30c per note, including accrued income.

The trust has previously said it continued to be hurt by price volatility in the US credit market as a result of spillover from the sub-prime mortgage market problems, and the effect of recent interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve.

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