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Heartland banking licence outcome likely before Christmas

Heartland New Zealand, the lender formed from the merger of Pyne Gould Corp's Marac Finance with the Canterbury and Southern Cross building societies, does not expect to know whether its application to become a bank has been successful before this week's annual meeting.

The lender expects to find out the success of its application for a banking licence before Christmas, having previously anticipated a decision in November, the company says in a statement.

The lender had been hoping to update shareholders on its strategy as a fully-fledged bank at the annual meeting on Friday, and give them "greater comfort that the outcome on bank registration can be meaningfully addressed at the meeting".

Its expectation of a November decision was based on the customary pace for New Zealand incorporated applicants.

"The application to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is complete, and the formal determination process is well advanced with the RBNZ," the lender says.

"HNZ is not aware of any open issues in respect of the application, and knows of no obstacles to a successful outcome."

Securing a banking licence has been a key plank of Heartland's strategy in a shift away from a new regulatory regime that imposed stricter conditions on non-bank financial institutions.

Last month Heartland had its investment grade BBB- credit rating affirmed with a stable outlook by Standard & Poor's, which cited the lender's strength as very strong capital and earnings assessment, good geographic and business diversity, and sticking to its timeline for its post-merger plan.

The shares rose 1.5% to 70 cents in trading today.

(BusinessDesk)

Comments and questions

If the Reserve Bank does not grant the banking licence, what impact will that have on Heartland?

Share price would retreat but only in the short term. Put simply, they would not be at this stage or saying much if they were not a shoe in to get the licence. The sale of Kerr's shareholding was a godsend to Heartland chances and, in fact, may well have sped up the process if my sources are correct.

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