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May 8, 2017

Home Capital shares surge after suspended dividend

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Home Capital Group is suspending its quarterly dividend as the embattled mortgage lender attempts to preserve its balance sheet.

The company is also reporting its high interest savings account balances are expected to total $192 million as of Monday, down precipitously from $521 million on April 28 as capital continues to flee the company. Home Capital (HCG.TO) is also reporting it has drawn $1.4 billion of the $2 billion credit facility provided by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP).

Home Capital shares gained 16.75 per cent on Monday, closing the trading day at $6.83.

In an interview on BNN, Paul Taylor, chief investment officer of Asset Allocation at BMO Global Asset Management, said the company’s inability to stem the outflow of funds is a serious concern.

“The fact that short-term funds are evaporating as quickly as they have is a cause for meaningful concern,” Taylor said. “We’re well aware of the situation, and obviously they’re doing all that they can in the short term to shore up their balance sheet, but I think we want to see that they’re getting ahead of this. The concern is, these are some very serious runoffs.”

The company is also unveiling a slate of changes to the board, adding former Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan CEO Claude Lamoureux, former OMERS CEO Paul Haggis and Sharon Sallows to the board of directors. Current board chair Kevin Smith is stepping down from the role, but will remain as an independent director.

Home Capital has seen more modest outflows from its guaranteed investment certificates, with its GIC balance standing at $12.64 billion on May 5, down from $12.86 billion at the end of April. GIC deposits of $100,000 or less on certificates maturing in less than five years are fully insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

The flurry of moves is just the latest chapter in a saga that has seen Home Capital’s stock price fall nearly 80 per cent over the course of the last six weeks. Depositors, shaken by OSC actions focused on disclosures made by a trio of current and former executives and continued pressure from short sellers including Marc Cohodes, have fled both the HISAs and the stock.

However, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told BNN late last week that the company will not hold a fire sale on its mortgage portfolio.

Home Capital's stock was trading down almost 6 per cent as of 9:33 a.m. ET. on Monday.