Otago Daily Times

CBL Insurance boss Peter Harris withdraws from Entreprene­ur of the Year


AUCKLAND: Peter Harris, the boss of troubled insurer CBL, has withdrawn as New Zealand’s entry to the EY Entreprene­ur of the Year global competitio­n.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However, given revelation­s about CBL Corporatio­n in the past week, Harris had withdrawn from the contest.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

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Peter Harris

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