New Zealand

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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Construction business Arrow International has gone into voluntary administration after a contractual dispute left it with insufficient cashflow to meet operating costs, The New Zealand Herald reported. Administrators from accountancy BDO were appointed at 2.30pm today. "This is not the outcome we wanted or expected, but in light of a recent adjudicator's decision, we had no choice but to take this course of action," the company's board said in a statement.

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CBL Insurance has finally entered liquidation amid accusations of massive solvency breaches, Insurance Times reported. Nathan Gedye, lawyer for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, said CBL Insurance’s balance sheet was insolvent by $86.6m in 2013, $102m in 2014, $104m in 2015 and $98.6m in 2016, according to The New Zealand Herald. The company’s solvency position as at December 2017 was 25 per cent compared to the ratio required by direction of the Reserve Bank of 170 per cent and the required 100 per cent under licence, a shortfall of $136.5m.

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Former prime minister Dame Jenny Shipley gave evidence for a second day at Auckland High Court rejecting claims that Mainzeal, a construction company she chaired, was insolvent as early as 2008, Stuff.co.nz reported. Mainzeal was put into receivership in early February 2013, but liquidators Andrew Bethell and Brian Mayo-Smith of BDO allege the company traded while insolvent, and are suing some of its former directors, including Shipley, for up to $75 million in damages to repay Mainzeal's creditors. Shipley betrayed no nerves while giving evidence of her involvement with Mainzeal between 20

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Insolvency practitioners could face fines of up to $75,000 if they don't report serious issues in failed businesses, if proposed legislative amendments go ahead, Radio New Zealand reported. The penalties were one idea floated in a Supplementary Order Paper on the proposed amendments to the Insolvency Practitioners Bill. The legislation aimed to get rid of errant behaviour by so-called friendly liquidators, administrators and receivers who did not give all creditors a fair go. Submissions on the bill close on Friday.
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JB Hi-Fi expects to see another year of declining revenues on this side of the Tasman as the ASX-listed discount consumer electronics retailer attempts to drive profitability in its New Zealand unit, The New Zealand Herald reported. The local division of the Melbourne-based company widened its loss before interest and tax to $2.9 million in the 12 months ended June 30 from an ebit-loss $2.7 million a year earlier. Not only did margins shrink, but revenue dipped 1.1 per cent to $231.5 million with the closure of one store and exit from whiteware goods.
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The liquidators of Bella Vista Homes have just $28 with which to pay more than $4 million to creditors – unless they can recover money from two former directors and a series of related company transactions, The New Zealand Herald reported. Insolvency practitioners Rhys Cain and Rees Logan released their first report on Wednesday and outlined their plans to recover the millions owed. They have issued a letter of demand to former Bella Vista director and shareholder Danny Cancian, seeking to recover funds from his overdrawn shareholder current account.
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