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Helicopter firm flies free of NZ lender crisis

Helicopter firm flies free of NZ lender crisis

HELICOPTERS Cambodia said business continued as usual at the firm yesterday after the New Zealand government launched a US$1.26 billion debt bailout of its sole investor, South Canterbury Finance.

New Zealand announced it would cover lender South Canterbury Finance’s debt, owed to 35,000 depositors, after the company failed to find new capital in time for an August 31 deadline and went into receivership.

According to a South Canterbury statement, it is the sole investor in Helicopters New Zealand.

In turn, Helicopters New Zealand is the 100 percent owner of Helicopters Cambodia, according to the subsidiary’s general manager, Kevin Treloar.

Despite the investor’s collapse, he remained upbeat about Helicopters Cambodia, along with the future of Canterbury subsidiaries such as Scales Corporation and Dairy Holdings.

“These companies are merely non-charging investments of South Canterbury; therefore are not affected by the administrative measures that are now in place,” he said yesterday. South Canterbury’s subsidiaries – including Helicopters Cambodia – would continue to operate as usual, he said.

Helicopters Cambodia was the first commercial helicopter service to operate in the Kingdom in 1998 and offers flights for tourism, mining exploration operations and concession-monitoring purposes, according to its website.

Helicopters New Zealand turned a NZ$16.2 million (US$11.3 million) profit after tax in the year ending June 30, 2009, according to a release from South Canterbury earlier this year.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said yesterday that swift government action was needed to limit fallout from the collapse on his country’s wider economy.

The governmental bailout funds will not go to directly to South Canterbury, which began as a rural lender in 1926, but in recent years diversified into more exotic investments.

Instead, they will be disbursed among the company’s receivers, who will distribute it to depositors and stockholders who would have otherwise lost assets.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING AFP

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