5 Oct 2010

Allied Farmers' shares sink to record low

5:15 am on 5 October 2010

Shares in the embattled rural services firm Allied Farmers have sunk to a record low.

The firm lost $77.6 million in the year to the end of June, $40 million of which was due to charges to cover its failed finance arm, and writedowns of the assets and loans it bought from Hanover and United Finance last year.

Its auditor has also questioned its ability to continue operating as a going concern.

But the company says it's focused on the future and won't even consider making acquisitions to boost its rural business until its balance sheet is in order.

Search for new CEO has begun

Managing director Rob Alloway says Allied Farmers is now focused on its core livestock and retail operations, and on eliminating debt.

Mr Alloway, who will leave his role in December, says the board has begun the search for a new chief executive, and is also looking for new directors.

Allied Farmers shares have tumbled more than 80% since it bought Hanover and United's assets for $396 million in December. The price fell a tenth of a cent to 2.4c on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Treasury expects to pay $130 million to Allied Nationwide Finance's 4500 depositors by the end of the month.

The lender was covered by the Government's Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme when it was placed in receivership in August.