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Business briefs: loan shark war

Last updated 12:25 11/04/2014

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Loan shark crackdown nearer
A bill aimed at cracking down on loan sharks and protecting vulnerable consumers has passed its second reading in Parliament.

The Credit Contracts and Financial Services Law Reform Bill, which has cross-party support, puts the onus on lenders to make sure borrowers can meet repayments.

It also improves the disclosure of fees and interest rates, but has been criticised for stopping short of introducing a cap on maximum interest rates.

Short-term ''payday'' lenders typically charge weekly interest rates that can work out to be as high as 400 per cent on an annual basis.

February boom in guest nights
South Island hotels and holiday parks had a ripper February with guest nights up more than 6 per cent.

Statistics New Zealand figures show total national guest nights were up 2.4 per cent in February, with the trend in visitors hitting a record high.

But it was a tale of two islands. While guest numbers were up 6.3 per cent in the South Island, they were down 0.3 per cent in the North Island during the same month.

Guest nights were up across the board, but especially for holiday parks, up 3.9 per cent, and hotels up 2.4 per cent, Statistics NZ said.

"Guest night trends are consistently rising," Statistics NZ business indicators manager Neil Kelly said. "Most regions are showing positive movements for February."

Compared with February last year, domestic and international guest nights rose most in Auckland, Canterbury and Otago.

Renaissance signals imminent liquidation
NZX-listed Renaissance is likely to go into voluntary liquidation "as soon as possible".

It will return its capital to shareholders in two tranches, the earliest payment possibly being in June.

Chairman Colin Giffney said the company was approached in February by a group interested in using Renaissance, which is now effectively an empty shell company, for a backdoor listing, but he doubted whether that would be in the interests of shareholders.

In February, Renaissance completed the sale of its only profitable asset, the Yoobee School of Design, previously known as Natcoll, to private schools owner Academic Colleges Group for about $13 million.

Chorus to appeal broadband judgment
Chorus has sought leave to appeal the High Court judgment received on Tuesday that rejected a Chorus challenge to the Commerce Commission's determination that the company could charge only $10.92 a month for copper broadband connections, down from $21.96.

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''We must continue to use every option available to us in order provide clarification of pricing principles and section 18/18 (2A), which is a critical part of the regulatory regime and affects both current and future industry outcomes,"Vanessa Oakley, Chorus general counsel, said today.

Orion Health expands in Christchurch
The global health software company, Orion Health, expects to have more than 100 staff in Christchurch within the next year.

The company is today opening an expanded office in the Hazeldean Business Park in Addington, not far from Christchurch Hospital.

Orion Health established its first office in the city three weeks before the February 22, 2011, earthquake. It has grown from a handful of staff to 64 today, and it said it was committed to having more than 100 within 12 months.

The company's Christchurch team will continue to focus on contracts under a partnership with the Canterbury District Health Board and the other South Island health boards.

- Fairfax Media

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