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Heartland nabs RBNZ supervision head

Heartland has expanded its group leadership, as it has forayed into Australian agri finance and aimed for further growth.

Heartland has appointed two new executives. Andy Wood will join the group from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), to become its new chief risk officer from 11 April.

Mr Wood had held a number of supervision roles with the RBNZ.

His most recent position was head of supervision, where he was responsible for the central bank’s approach to supervision, covering both prudential and anti-money laundering activities across the bank, non-bank and insurance sectors.

Meanwhile, Heartland Bank chief risk officer Michael Drumm has been promoted to group chief operating officer.

Previously, he had been a general counsel for the bank and had also worked as a senior associate with Kiwi law firm Mayne Wetherell.

Earlier this week, Heartland revealed that it was set to buy livestock finance specialist StockCo Australia, entering the local agri market.

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The group already offers rural loans in New Zealand, including online finance for sheep and cattle farmers, similar to StockCo Australia.

Heartland stated the deal will extend its “Australia offering in an area where it already has expertise”.

The majority of StockCo Australia’s $341 million portfolio (60 per cent) is comprised of cattle farmers and the remaining 35 per cent is sheep.

The new business will add to Heartland’s $1.2 billion Australian reverse mortgage unit.

The transaction, which is expected to complete by the end of May, has a total cost of $143 million, plus a potential top-up of $11 million, depending on whether specific performance metrics are achieved.

It will be funded through new debt facilities, provided by a “major Australasian financial institution”, Heartland said.

Elders, which currently has a 30 per cent stake in StockCo Australia, will divest its holding but will continue as a distribution partner.

A new exclusive distribution agreement will see Elders provide StockCo products to its clients post-transaction, for an initial five-year term.

In February, Heartland reported a rise in lending in the first half of the 2022 financial year, but the company predicted that tightening credit regulations will shape volumes for the remainder of the year.

But reverse mortgage lenders have accessed only around 1.5 per cent of the potential retiree housing market in Australia, according to Deloitte, with the current outstanding market being around $3.6 billion.

[Related: Heartland acquires specialist lender]

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