Ratings retained after bank status given

Heartland chief executive Jeff Greenslade. Photo supplied.
Heartland chief executive Jeff Greenslade. Photo supplied.
Standard and Poor's Ratings Services has left its ratings on Heartland Building Society unchanged after the announcement yesterday the Reserve Bank had granted Heartland banking status.

The ratings left unchanged are BBB-/stable/A-3, in line with Heartland's current stable outlook and supportive of its business position.

''A positive impact on our business position assessment would, however, require evidence of sustained strengthening of the franchise and business stability. Additionally, the bank registration approval process has seen many of Heartland Building Society's systems, processes and practices strengthen in support of its risk management capability,'' S&P analyst Nico Salange said in a statement.

Heartland would continue to be New Zealand-focused and was expected to have a balanced engagement in business, rural and household sectors, with an emphasis on supporting and funding the productive sector, he said.

Heartland New Zealand chairman Bruce Irvine said the building society had now achieved its goal of becoming the only New Zealand-operated, controlled and managed banking group with a parent company listed on the NZX main board.

''It has been my pleasure to be part of this Heartland journey, and we can be extremely proud of all that has been accomplished. We look forward to delivering on the promise of being a successful New Zealand-listed bank that will support the productive sectors of the New Zealand economy over the long term.''

Chief executive Jeff Greenslade said Heartland was part of a new breed of banks offering a fresh approach in two ways. It provided a balanced engagement across the three sectors that drove prosperity in New Zealand communities - business, rural and households. Secondly, it had an emphasis on supporting and funding the productive sector - meeting the sustainable needs of hard-working New Zealanders and New Zealand.

''We recognise that at the same time Heartland, as a bank, needs to retain the advantages of being small, local and accessible, at all times seeking to be innovative,'' he said.

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