New Zealand

Air New Zealand Ltd plans to draw on a NZ$900 million ($596.34 million) government loan within days to help it weather the coronavirus pandemic after reporting its first annual loss in almost two decades, Reuters reported. The funding injection will provide some much needed liquidity as the airline burns through cash, but it will come at a cost. Along with interest rates of 7-9%, the loan gives the government the right to seek repayment through a capital raising after six months or convert the loan to equity.

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Travel agent STA Travel Group has gone into voluntary administration. It comes after the collapse of the travel group’s Swiss-based parent company STA Travel Holding AG, which filed for insolvency, Business Insider Australia reported. STA operates online travel agent services and 27 outlets in Australia, with Deloitte’s Jason Tracy and Timothy Norman appointed as administrators on August 21.

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Next year is going to be a "watershed year" for business failures an insolvency expert is predicting, unless companies can come up with a plan now to get out of debt and survive, the New Zealand Herald reported. John Fisk, national leader of restructuring for PwC and chair of the Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association New Zealand, said that insolvency applications had come down significantly under lockdown but massive amounts of government subsidies meant many businesses weren't addressing the underlying issues related to debt.

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New Zealand’s central bank warned that the coronavirus pandemic presents a significant challenge to the country’s financial institutions, which could be stressed by failing businesses and loan defaults, Bloomberg News reported. While the financial system entered the crisis in good shape, “it’s capacity to absorb shocks is not unlimited,” the Reserve Bank said in its semi-annual Financial Stability Report published Wednesday in Wellington.

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Tamarind Taranaki was placed in liquidation at a watershed meeting with creditors this morning, The New Zealand Herald reported. The company, which operates the Tui oil fields ran into debts when a drilling campaign in September went over budget and was unsuccessful. Malaysian-owned Tamarind Taranaki reportedly has debts of around $350 million, including a US$100 million claim from the New Zealand Government for the decommissioning costs of closing and cleaning up the fields.

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Eric Watson's Cullen Group In Liquidation

Eric Watson's Cullen Group has been moved into liquidation by court order, meaning it might no longer fight a $112 million tax judgment against it. The company was moved into the hands of KPMG liquidator Vivian Fatupaito earlier this week, by court appointment, The New Zealand Herald reported. The Inland Revenue Department had been pursuing the company's liquidation after Justice Matthew Palmer ruled in March this year that Cullen Group was part of Watson's "web of entities" designed to avoid paying non-resident withholding tax.

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Fonterra went into the black in its first half but the co-op faces an uphill battle to meet its earnings forecasts for the year while it reduces debt and streamlines its operations. The dairy giant reported net profit of $80 million in six months to January, up from a loss of $348m a year earlier, but said its net earnings before interest and tax dropped by 29 per cent to $323m, The New Zealand Herald reported. Newly-appointed chief executive Miles Hurrell said the result was "not be where it should be".

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Beleaguered rich-lister Eric Watson will likely remain embroiled in courts for years — and faces the possibility of a tax bill of $200m when penalties are added — after a landmark court decision yesterday saw his businesses ruled to have engaged in $51.5m in tax avoidance, The New Zealand Herald reported. Justice Matthew Palmer said a complex 2002 transaction — involving Cayman Island companies while Watson himself was relocating from New Zealand to the UK for tax purposes — was an avoidance arrangement. The case is one of the largest tax judgments in New Zealand history.

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Moana Park Winery has gone into voluntary administration, The New Zealand Herald reported. The Puketapu-based, multi-award winning winery, which is officially registered as World's Best Little Wine Company Ltd, chose to take that step itself on Tuesday. Owned by Daniel and Kaylea Barker, the family business, has made a name for itself with a focus on producing natural, low allergen wines. It's also considered one of the stars of the Hawke's Bay events scene, and hosts the annual Another Day in Taradise.

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The Reserve Bank's proposals to double minimum bank equity levels will cost New Zealand's economy $1.5-to-$2 billion a year without making banks much safer, according to former long-serving central bank official Ian Harrison, The New Zealand Herald reported. Worse, he says the bank's decision to base its policy on ensuring that bank collapses occur only once in every 200 years happened at the last minute when it realised that its initial target of limiting bank collapses to once in every 100 years would have meant New Zealand banks already had sufficient capital to meet that test.

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