19 Jun 2009

'Drip-feeding' of information on companies criticised

9:25 am on 19 June 2009

The stock exchange says accusations by a shareholder lobby group that some firms face defaulting on their debts is damaging the country's listed companies.

Last month, Shareholders Association chairman Bruce Sheppard said 20 of 47 firms he had analysed were in default or close to default. He wrote to the companies asking for more information.

Mr Sheppard says he has had eight responses to his letters so far and will release each of them a day at a time.

NZX corporate head Rowan McRae says it asked the association to reveal its findings, but it refused.

She says by drip-feeding the information this way, Mr Sheppard is causing unnecessary fear.

Two of the companies, Tourism Holdings and Vector, have dismissed claims that they are at risk of defaulting on loans and both say they are meeting their banks' requirements.

Tourism Holdings chief executive Grant Webster says Mr Sheppard is wrong, and his company expects to make a small profit this financial year.

Mr Sheppard says Tourism Holdings was not one of the companies the association believed was seriously in trouble, and "on balance they're probably okay."