24 Aug 2009

St Laurence works to lower debt

7:42 am on 24 August 2009

St Laurence Property & Finance says it is on an aggressive sales drive to reduce debt.

The property investment and development company lost $87 million in the year to March as it suffered massive write-downs in the value of its properties and lost money on finance deals.

At present, the company has a total debt of $240 million split across bonds, debentures and bank loans.

To reassure investors and creditors St Laurence wants to reduce its debt exposure by $100 million by next year.

The company also needs funds for $30 million of bond repayments in July next year and a further $50 million in May 2011.

Chairman Kevin Podmore says so far the company meeting its bank's requirements and is not in breach of any covenants. He says bank debt represents less than 40% of total assets.

Mr Podmore says St Laurence Property & Finance may raise capital in a rights issue if property sales don't produce enough money.

The company's cornerstone shareholder, St Laurence, is at risk of being put into receivership by the Trustee after a huge jump in bad debts, but Mr Podmore says if that happens, St Laurence Property and Finance should continue to trade.