11 May 2009

Banks criticised for changing business loan terms

5:57 am on 11 May 2009

Institutional investors are concerned that banks are changing the terms of loans for businesses and spooking them into raising cash to pay down debt.

So far this year, the rush to equity has seen companies raise a combined $3.2 billion, already higher than the total capital raised last year. In 2008, $3.1bn was raised, according to NZX figures.

Many of the country's top listed companies are among those that have raised additional capital, citing the need to bolster their balance sheets and pay-down debt.

ING investment manager Craig Tyson says banks are not only charging higher fees but are gaining more power over important company decisions.

Mr Tyson says he knows of companies, particularly property vehicles, that have had covenants changed requiring them to use the bank's services if they sell properties or for any future lending.

Massey University director of banking studies David Tripe says the market should have anticipated banks clamping down on lending terms in the current economic environment.

He says this is particularly true for property investment companies, as the value of properties is uncertain and banks fear lending above market value.