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Managers buy back Strategic

Managers and directors of Strategic Finance, including chief executive Kerry Finnigan, have teamed with Halifax Bank of Scotland unit BOS International to buy out their firm, gaining access to more credit and funds.

Friday, July 18th 2008, 5:51AM

by Jonathan Underhill

The group agreed to the acquisition subject to due diligence and approval of shareholders of Allco HIT, which is selling Strategic Finance's immediately parent.

Strategic Finance's current owners were "unable to assist in providing the necessary capital we need to run the business and move forward," Finnigan said in a BusinessWire interview.

Helping cement the transaction, BOS has agreed to support a NZ$150 million wholesale lending facility, reducing the percentage of funding generated from the sale of debentures. The deal would make Strategic Finance, along with ANZ Bank's ING unit, one of the few New Zealand finance companies with a bank as a shareholder, Finnigan said. "It positions us very well for the future," he said.

Strategic Finance last month said it was undertaking "an intensive review of its business" covering provisioning, liquidity and doubtful debt levels.

The company had assets of $568 million at June 30, with debentures at NZ$320 million.

"The renewal rate is definitely down," Finnigan said. It dropped as low as 20% and is currently 35% to 40%, he said.

BOS will have an initial 19.9% cornerstone and the ability to increase to 49% to reflect its financial contribution to the group, the statement said. The original owners and senior managers will hold the balance.

The group includes Graham Jackson, Jock Hobbs and Marc Lindale who are all executive directors of Strategic Finance

Finnigan said despite the difficulties facing the New Zealand finance company sector, the proposed ownership change of Strategic Finance should ensure its long-term future.

"History has shown that the need for strong finance companies in New Zealand will not disappear," he said. "We have every confidence that the change of ownership will ensure that Strategic Finance will be one of the companies servicing this need."

The sale process is expected to take two months.

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