CBL In­surance boss Peter Harris with­draws from En­tre­pre­neur of the Year

Otago Daily Times - - BUSINESS & MONEY - HAMISH FLETCHER

AUCK­LAND: Peter Harris, the boss of trou­bled in­surer CBL, has with­drawn as New Zealand’s en­try to the EY En­tre­pre­neur of the Year global com­pe­ti­tion.

Harris was crowned as the coun­try’s en­tre­pre­neur of the year last Oc­to­ber by an in­de­pen­dent judg­ing panel. He was due to head to Monaco in June to rep­re­sent New Zealand in the global com­pe­ti­tion.

How­ever, given rev­e­la­tions about CBL Cor­po­ra­tion in the past week, Harris had with­drawn from the con­test. EY said it ‘‘be­came aware of the Re­serve Bank in­ves­ti­ga­tion into CBL Cor­po­ra­tion only af­ter Peter Harris was awarded New Zealand En­tre­pre­neur Of The Year. ‘‘We re­main sup­port­ive of the in­de­pen­dent NZ EOY judg­ing panel which made its de­ci­sion in Oc­to­ber 2017, based on the fi­nan­cial and other in­for­ma­tion sup­plied by the nom­i­nee.

‘‘Un­der the terms and condi­ tions of the EOY pro­gramme, as ac­cepted by Peter Harris, the NZ EOY award can be re­voked if a par­tic­i­pant has, or is al­leged to have, en­gaged in ac­tions that would ad­versely re­flect on the pro­gramme. Any such de­ci­sion will be taken pend­ing the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,’’ EY said.

CBL In­surance, a sub­sidiary of NZX­listed CBL Cor­po­ra­tion, was placed un­der con­trol of McGrathNi­col late last month af­ter the Re­serve Bank made an ap­pli­ca­tion through the High Court at Auck­land.

The Re­serve Bank of New Zealand says it asked for CBLIn­surance (CBLI) to be put into an in­terim liq­ui­da­tion af­ter the com­pany paid $55 mil­lion to over­seas com­pa­nies, breach­ing the cen­tral bank’s or­ders.

Par­ent com­pany CBL Corp, an Auck­land­based credit surety and fi­nan­cial in­surance risk firm, had its stock sus­pended from the NZX on Fe­bru­ary 8 amid con­cerns from NZX Regulation about the in­for­ma­tion it had given the mar­ket, fol­low­ing en­gage­ment be­tween it, CBL, the Fi­nan­cial Mar­kets Author­ity (FMA), the Re­serve Bank, and over­seas reg­u­la­tors with pru­den­tial over­sight of CBL’s in­ter­na­tional in­surance busi­ness.

On Fe­bru­ary 20, CBL In­surance told the Re­serve Bank it was con­tin­u­ing to op­er­ate, de­spite be­ing be­low the min­i­mum reg­u­la­tory sol­vency level.

The cen­tral bank’s con­cerns about CBL In­surance’s re­serv­ing poli­cies and reg­u­la­tory sol­vency were be­ing re­viewed with the com­pany and through an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the Re­serve Bank had told CBL it needed approval to make any sig­nif­i­cant trans­ac­tions.

CBL In­surance de­scribes it­self as ‘‘New Zealand’s largest and old­est credit surety and fi­nan­cial­risk provider’’. It op­er­ates in 25 coun­tries.

Its par­ent, CBL Cor­po­ra­tion, ap­pointed vol­un­tary ad­min­is­tra­tors Kor­daMen­tha over last week­end to pre­vent other reg­u­la­tors from tak­ing ac­tion af­ter the Re­serve Bank move.

NZX sus­pended CBL Cor­po­ra­tion stock ear­lier this month due to con­cerns the mar­ket op­er­a­tor’s regulation team had about whether the com­pany had given com­plete and true ma­te­rial in­for­ma­tion to the mar­ket.

Trad­ing in the stock was halted be­fore the sus­pen­sion, and news emerged over sub­se­quent days that pru­den­tial reg­u­la­tors in New Zealand and over­seas ques­tioned the ad­e­quacy of re­serves for its French con­struc­tion in­surance divi­sion, prompt­ing a credit­rat­ing down­grade and prospec­tive cap­i­tal raise.

CBL Cor­po­ra­tion last week said its Euro­pean sub­sidiary’s lawyers were op­pos­ing an order from the Cen­tral Bank of Ire­land in­struct­ing it to stop writ­ing new busi­ness im­me­di­ately.

CBL said its sub­sidiary CBL In­surance Europe Dac was con­tin­u­ing to oth­er­wise op­er­ate nor­mally and poli­cies re­mained in force. — NZME/Busi­nessDesk

Peter Harris

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