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First Step investors will likely get more repayments this year

Investors in the beleaguered First Step and First Up investment trusts should expect receive further repayments this year after the funds, which are being wound up, wrote off a further $73 million in the 2009 financial year.

Tuesday, February 2nd 2010, 5:46AM

by Paul McBeth

Calibre Asset Services chairman Edward Russell told investors in his end of year report that they "anticipate the next repayment to investors will be made in the first half of 2010," though this will not be made in respect to all six of the trusts.

"In addition, we advise that we expect to be able to make further repayments to investors during 2010," he said. Calibre anticipates a cash inflow of some $69 million.

That comes after the trustee had to write down a further $53 million to Geotherm over the loans to a geothermal project in Taupo, and the $13.5 million to Structured Finance, which entered a moratorium last month, leaving the total cash shortfall at $170.7 million.

The trusts were also forced to make "considerable write downs in the value" of its loan to Club Finance, which ultimately had a complaint laid with the Serious Fraud Office by non-executive director Doug Somers-Edgar following a review into its loan portfolio by KordaMentha.

Some $223.5 million has been returned to investors since the funds were closed in October 2006. At that point the total funds in the six trusts totalled $457 million. Of this, about $330 million was investors' principal.

The trusts made a loss of some $66.5 million in the 12 months through June 30, compared to a $4.9 million profit a year earlier, on the impaired loans. It only wrote down the value of its loans by $7.3 million in the 2008 financial year.

Auditor Ernst & Young flagged a fundamental uncertainty over the recoverability of the loans to the trusts, saying "due to current market conditions and the nature of the underlying assets, the trustee is significantly uncertain regarding the timing and recovery of the loans."

 

Paul is a staff writer for Good Returns based in Wellington.

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