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Lessons In Finance Company Debacle For Former Boss

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Pam Graham of NZPA

Wellington, Sept 4 NZPA - The losers in the meltdown of the finance company sector have not just been so-called mum and dad investors.

The conceived wisdom is that these people have no one to blame but themselves because they relied too much on financial advisers and didn't read the small print.

Or that they thought they had a diversified portfolio just because they put their money with different finance companies.

Today Brent King, who founded and then managed finance company Dorchester Pacific for 17 years until 2005, reflected publicly on why he put 36 percent of the assets of a new investment vehicle Viking Capital into Dorchester Pacific shares.

Viking is a listed investment company set up by Mr King, Grant Baker and Sir William Birch in June 2007, which has been renamed Investment Research Group (IRG) to reflect its current focus.

It lost $5.5m on its investment in Dorchester Pacific.

"Dorchester had $475m when I left with $60m cash," Mr King told IRG shareholders at the annual meeting.

"What a difference today. Our lesson is don't trust people with your money unless you have significant influence," Mr King said.

He said the investment in Dorchester was a disaster.

"Simply put -- we backed the management of Dorchester Pacific to cease making the poor decisions that they had been."

He said he had reflected on the reasons for maintaining the holding.

It was a very good business for over 17 years. It had a strong brand, strong profits and strong cash flow. It was in the top four companies in the sector and was engineered to sustain a downturn.

"What we did not understand was how quickly the directors moved the focus to illiquid assets. And just how costly the St Laurence purchase was, and how little attention they were paying to the market."

Mr King told NZPA he was not able to monitor the quality of the company's loan book as an investor.

The announcements made by Dorchester gave hope and confidence to this most experienced of investors.

"Shareholders had every reason to believe there would be a very different outcome," he said.

Mr King said that the only thing worse than losing money was losing money for your friends.

"I am very sorry for this but we are even more determined to make up for that and to give our shareholders excellent returns in the future."

Dorchester Pacific and its subsidiary Dorchester Finance have put a deferred repayment plan to Perpetual Trust Ltd and New Zealand Permanent Trustees Ltd.

Dorchester announced in June that Dorchester Finance was seeking a deferred payments plan after its reinvestment rates fell dramatically.

Dorchester Finance was at that time estimated to owe debenture holders $168m.

IRG now has a larger market capitalisation that Dorchester.

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