21 Sep 2009

ASB hopes changes to loans scheme will improve uptake

5:52 pm on 21 September 2009

ASB says it's disappointed with the uptake of its Job Creation Loans, but new changes should make them more attractive to businesses.

The bank set up the $1 billion fund in February, to lend to businesses at rates lower-than-market rates, if they could prove it would save or create jobs.

Relationship banking chief executive James Mitchell says $27 million of the fund has been lent to 70 business, which has helped to retain or create 540 jobs.

But Mr Mitchell says he's disappointed with the level of inquiry and lending so far.

He says that's partly because the two-year fixed rate loan was quite a narrow offer.

Mr Mitchell says that's now been broadened to include a variable rate option and a flexible finance proposition, which is good for project work with progressive draw downs.

He says exporters in particular will benefit from having $250 million ring-fenced for their use.

Mr Mitchell says the original fund looked to fund incremental project work or borrowing which would create or retain jobs, but with the current export sector, ASB is prepared to look at a total refinance of up to $10 million.