NZ Standard & Poors Rating

We've received the following comments from Heartland Bank regards Standard and Poors change of view on New Zealands credit risk.

Standard & Poors Logo"Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) has revised its assessment of the Economic Risks in New Zealand and as a consequence the anchor rating for New Zealand banks has moved to ‘BBB+’ negative from stable based on concerns regarding New Zealand’s economic vulnerabilities, including a material dependence on external borrowings, persistent current account deficits and recent strong growth in house prices.  S&P see these factors increasing the risk of deterioration in New Zealand bank credit quality.

By way of background, the anchor rating is the basis upon which all banks are benchmarked.  So any changes to the anchor rating tends to have a flow on effect to our rating.  Consequently, S&P’s credit rating outlook for Heartland has been revised by default to negative from stable.  At the same time S&P have affirmed Heartland’s investment grade issuer credit rating of ‘BBB-’.

It is important to note that this is not unique to Heartland and all New Zealand owned S&P rated registered banks and Credit Unions have seen their outlooks revised (excluding Kiwibank due to government support).  Australian bank ratings have not changed due to parent company support.

By (in essence) placing the banking sector on outlook negative, S&P are saying there is a one in three chance of the rating dropping a notch over the next 24 months should these economic vulnerabilities (mentioned above) worsen. 

A copy of the NZX release made by Heartland's parent company, NZX listed Heartland New Zealand (HNZ), is attached.

Heartland considers itself less exposed to these risks than other banks and S&P rightly acknowledges this.  As such we are confident that Heartland will not be caught up in any rating downgrade, were it to occur.  The reasons for this being:

  1. S&P are already commenting on our improving business position post bank registration;
  2. The Heartland business model and our strategic positioning means we are less likely to be impacted by the scenario S&P are concerned about due to several factors including:

a. Our business diversity, household, business and rural;
b. Focus on the productive sector and lending on income generating assets;
c. The limited exposure to residential property;
d. Absence of offshore funding; and
e. A strategy of competing in stable and less contestable specialist markets (Livestock, Invoice finance, Motor vehicle etc.)"

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