19 Feb 2019

Today's business news: What you need to know

4:24 pm on 19 February 2019

The Auditor-General is concerned local councils will stretch their debt facilities as they look to spend more in their communities.

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Local Councils, including Queenstown-Lakes, plan on spending $54b over the next 10 years fixing ageing assets. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

In a letter to the Productivity Commission, John Ryan said local governments planned to spend a total of $54.5 billion over the next 10 years, mostly to fix ageing assets.

That's 31 percent more than the $41.5b decade-long spend that was forecast in 2015.

About half of the cost would need to be financed by bank debt, Mr Ryan said, which would leave councils strapped for cash in the case of an emergency - especially if interest rates rose.

Some high-growth councils, including Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Queenstown-Lakes, were already coming up against their debt limits, he said.

Mr Ryan said councils needed to reconsider how they set and collected rates to avoid a cash crunch.

The letter was in response to the commission's issues paper on local government funding and financing, released in November.

Submissions closed on Friday last week.

Heartland Bank first-half profit rises to $33.1m

Financial services company Heartland Bank has reported a modest lift in its first-half profit driven by increased lending.

The company, which specialises in reverse mortgages, finance for businesses, cars and livestock, and the Harmoney loan platform - had a net profit of $33.1 million compared with $31.1m last year.

Strongest growth was in its Australian reverse mortgage business, business lending, car finance, and the Harmoney personal lending platform

The company's lending book grew more than 11 percent to $4.2 billion.

The company's forecasting a full year profit of between $73m-$75m.

NZ banks rating high in customer satisfaction

New Zealand banks continue to out-rank the big Australian owned operations in consumer satisfaction.

A Roy Morgan survey of nine banks shows TSB the top rated bank this year, rising more than six percentage points to an 88.5 percent rating.

It's dislodged Kiwibank from the top spot, which had a marginal rise to 84.6 percent.

Sign for TSB Bank

TSB is New Zealand's top-ranked bank for customer satisfaction. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The Co-operative Bank came in third with its rating rising 3.9 percentage points to 81.7 percent.

The survey average was 79.1 percent.

Of the big four Australian owned banks, BNZ was the most highly rated of the big four, up fractionally to just over 80 percent.

The worst of the big four was Westpac - its satisfaction score still rose 2.1 percentage points to 76.5 percent.

ANZ was the only major bank to see its customer satisfaction rating fall - down 1.9 percent to 77.1 percent.

The least trusted bank in the survey was SBS - its approval rating rise five percentage points to 75.1 percent.

Job adverts up in final quarter of 2018

The number of jobs advertised online rose two percent in the the final three months of 2018.

The Jobs Online figures released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show the number of job advertisements was slightly higher than the 1.7 percent average increase in the September quarter, with health and primary industries leading the demand.

Construction and engineering, business services and the health sector showed the strongest increase across most of the regions.

Demand was highest in Gisborne/Hawkes Bay, Northland, and the Manawatu-Whanganui/Taranaki regions.

Only Canterbury had a fall in vacancies in the December quarter.