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Collection House 'sorry' for a lost year as it restructures and sells off asset

Business

Collection House has claimed that it is back in business after selling off a key asset to a competitor and finally reporting a loss of $145 million for the year to June 30.

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But investors were not so confident and Collection House shares tumbled almost 60 per cent after its shares returned to trade today.

The company apologised to shareholders and released a swag of announcements on Christmas Eve after its shares were suspended from trading on the ASX for several months as it struggled to refinance and restructure its business.

It also sold its Australian debt ledger to Credit Corp for $160 million and has an agreement from lenders for a new, three-year senior debt facility of $45 million.

Its underlying result was a $16.2 million profit for the year, but it also raised provisions against the carrying value of its debt book of almost $240 million.

Credit Corp will also provide a $15 million loan to cover general corporate operations.

It said that the decisions would mean that the company would have a “significantly lower level of purchased debt ledger revenue and a partially reduced cost base which will need to carefully managed’’.

Collection House has also steered away from its strategy of taking court action for non payment and boasted that it had not filed a single bankruptcy in the year.

New chief executive Doug McAlpine said the decision to sell the debt ledger “was not taken lightly’’.

“Although it came with a substantial short term reduction in shareholder value the transaction provided the best structural outcome upon which to start rebuilding long term value,’’ McAlpine said.

“Following the completion if the refinancing transaction the company has largely eliminated the financial risk associated with historical debt assets, substantially reduced ut debt levels and greatly simplified its business model.’’

Chairman Leigh Berkley said the company’s economic performance across the period was affected by the wider economic effects of the bushfires in late 2019 and then particularly by the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020, during which “many of our banking and other clients rightly suspended their debt sale activity’’.

At the same time, Collection House needed to refinance its senior lenders and continue to enhance the way it interacted with customers.

“These factors led to a significant change program across the business with material writedowns to our purchased debt ledger resulting in a restructured cost base for a sustainable business going forward.

“Sadly, our capital position together with the standstill agreement with our senior lenders also precluded the payment of dividends.’’

He said operational performance and customer payment arrangements had held up well and senior lenders remain supportive.

 

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