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ANZ Extends Veritas Debt Deadline

ANZ Extends Veritas Debt Deadline as It Considers Asset Sales, Refinancing

By Sophie Boot

Oct. 2 (BusinessDesk) - Veritas Investments had its debt deadline partially extended by its bank to allow continuing discussion of possible deals.

In August, ANZ Bank New Zealand said it wouldn't renew $28.5 million in banking facilities which come due in October and November this year. Today, Veritas said the debt due to mature today has been extended until Nov. 30, meaning the majority of its debt now matures on Nov. 30.

Veritas is in discussions with external parties "on a number of scenarios including asset sales, mergers and refinancing", the company said in a statement.

"The board is in active discussions with a number of parties, but all proposals remain incomplete. In the meantime, both the Mad Butcher and Better Bar Company are trading profitably and Veritas is in compliance with its banking covenants with the ANZ."

Veritas repaid $4.8 million of bank debt in the 12 months ended June 30 after ANZ leant on it to map out a strategy to sell unprofitable businesses and review its capital plan. That included the sale of the upmarket Nosh supermarkets and the company-owned Mad Butcher stores.

The board prepared its annual accounts on a going concern basis, though it acknowledged that relied on finding alternative funding sources within the bank's timeframe or winning a reprieve from the bank.

Veritas's results were at the upper end of guidance, with revenue falling 7.8 percent to $30.8 million and a 12 percent decline in underlying earnings to $4.2 million. The company was projecting revenue of between $26 million and $31 million and underlying profit of between $3.7 million and $4.3 million.

The Auckland-based company narrowed its net loss to $793,000, or 1.83 cents per share, in the June year, from $4.6 million, or 10.6 cents, a year earlier.

The shares were unchanged at 6.4 cents, having slumped 68 percent this year.


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