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May 5, 2017

No fire sale coming at Home Capital, source says

A sign shows the logos of Home Capital Group's subsidiaries Home Trust and Oaken Financial.

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Home Capital Group Inc. (HCG.TO) is touting the restructuring experience of its newest board member, and there will be no immediate fire sale of the company, a source familiar with siutation tells BNN. 

On Friday, the company announced that – effective today – it has appointed Alan Hibben to replace Home Capital founder Gerald Soloway on its board of directors.

Hibben has served as an independent financial advisor for the Ontario government, and the managing director of mergers and acquisitions at RBC.

The source told BNN Friday the move is the beginning of an overhaul of the board. The timeline for the overhaul is unclear, but the source said they expect to replace much of the board and bring on new members with experience in real estate, finance and crisis management. 

The source also said an outright sale of the company in the short term is unlikely since the plunge in the company’s share price would mean it would be a fire sale. However, the company is outside of Canada for buyers of non-core assets and other strategic options.

Possible buyers of these assets remains unclear.

Earlier in the week, BNN spoke to the CEO if Equitable Bank, a subsidiary of Equitable Group, who said he would not be interested in purchasing any of Home Capital’s assets. 

“We believe that we’ve got really strong internal controls and a strong loan book,” he said. “The analogy I’d make is that we are a Volvo and [Home Capital] is a Pinto,” Andrew Moor told BNN on Monday. “I have incredible confidence in our loan book loan by loan because I know how they were processed and created. It’s not possible to have that confidence in another lenders books.”

Equitable was among alternative lenders on the defence amid the ongoing Home Capital Crisis. The company has secured a $2.5-billion loan in a syndicate from the big six banks this week in the event it would need an emergency line of credit.

The CEO of alternative mortgage lender First National Financial also weighed in by saying he wouldn’t want to purchase any of Home Capital’s assets.

“I don’t see us being a buyer of [Home Capital] assets,” Smith told BNN in an interview Monday. “We’re a prime mortgage lender, so our assets are insured. They tend to be in the alternative sub-prime space, so those assets probably wouldn’t fulfill our needs.”

Smith, who is a large shareholder in Equitable Group, did say he thought that bank could be a potential buyer.

Home Capital is looking to shore up confidence and touted the experience of its latest board member for leading North American Trust Company through an extensive restructuring. Hibben served as president of that company from 1991 to 1993, leading the 30-branch, 650-employee national trust company through a restructuring and sale “after previous management had been relieved and market conditions had eliminated profitability,” the company said in a release.

"I am looking forward to working with the team at Home Capital to restore confidence in what is a fundamentally sound business, and one that plays a very important role in the Canadian housing finance system,” Hibben said in a release.

"This is the start of our governance renewal," Kevin Smith, chairman of the Board, said in a release. "We are very pleased to welcome Alan to the Board and thank Jerry for his many years of service in building the Company. Alan's broad range of experience will be key in helping Home to navigate the new challenges facing the company and to rebuild confidence.”

Home Capital announced April 24 Soloway was preparing to step down from the board. The announcement came less than a week after the Ontario Securities Commission alleged the lender, and three of its former executives, played various roles in misleading shareholders in 2015.

-- With files from BNN's Amber Kanwar