John Wells steps down as chair of Fisher Funds 'to focus on CBL'
By Jonathan Underhill
March 5 (BusinessDesk) - John Wells has retired as chair of Fisher Funds Management after 18 years on its board to focus on his role as chair of CBL Corp, which appointed voluntary administrators last month after the Reserve Bank sought to have the credit surety and financial insurance risk firm liquidated.
Wells said in a statement he was retiring from Fisher Funds with immediate effect, a move that "will enable him to focus on recent developments affecting CBL Insurance Ltd and CBL Corp."
Fisher Fund had no exposure to CBL and would make an announcement shortly on a replacement chair, the statement said.
CBL had had its stock suspended from the NZX on Feb. 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 a number of overseas regulators with prudential oversight of CBL’s international insurance business. On Feb. 20, CBL Insurance told the Reserve Bank it was continuing to operate despite being below the minimum regulatory solvency level.
On March 1, Reserve Bank deputy governor and head of financial stability Geoff Bascand said the bank had told CBL it needed approval to make any significant transactions.
"CBL Insurance did not have our approval but nevertheless paid a total of $55 million to two other entities," Bascand said. "The payments may provide some creditors of CBL Insurance with an advantage over other creditors."
The RBNZ said it believed CBLI has $750 million in assets, mainly in cash and insurance receivables, and there was a serious risk the directors could further dispose of those or that overseas creditors could ask for freezing orders.
The Financial Markets Authority is also looking into CBL.