20 Oct 2010

Timaru businesses not banking on spend-up

11:19 pm on 20 October 2010

Just over $1.5 billion is now back in the hands of investors in the failed loan company South Canterbury Finance.

The company went into receivership in August, but thousands of investors have got their money back as it was covered by the Government's retail deposit guarantee scheme.

But businesses are not banking on people having a spend-up.

Timaru clothing retailer Grant Shaw says businesses were rocked by the failure of the company and the fraud investigation of its Timaru-based former chairman Alan Hubbard.

"That knocked everyone's confidence. The last bastion of strength in the financial community was South Canterbury Finance - and if that went, and we didn't have the back-up the Government gave us, we'd be history."

Mr Shaw hopes the payout to investors will give the local economy a boost.

Ken Wills runs a furniture business on the outskirts of Timaru and says it has been a lean few months. He is not sure how much of an impact the payout will have on the local economy.

"A lot of people have put that money away for retirement and investments, as we all do, so I don't think they're going to go on a spending spree. I think they'll look for other financial institutions to put their money into."

Mr Wills says the failure of South Canterbury Finance has not been the only factor holding back businesses this winter. Canterbury's devastating earthquake in September has also had an impact.

Lower return for investors in bank

South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce president Steve Lyttle says the impact on the economy would have been severe if the Government had not backed the company.

However, he believes investors are now likely to put their money in the bank, where they will get a lower return than they did from South Canterbury Finance.

Mr Lyttle says traditionally, investors at South Canterbury Finance were getting an 8% return but if they put the money in the bank they are now more likely get around 4%.

"For a lot of people it's going to mean a substantial cut in their actual retirement income."

Mr Lyttle says investors in South Canterbury Finance that he has spoken to say they will put their money into the bank, at least for the next six months.