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03 August 2022

Refinancing Update

Following the completion of our refinancing, Managing Director, Keith John, speaks with ausbiz about the new funding facility, reflects on the refinance process and gives insight to Pioneer’s future strategic priorities. Watch now or read the transcript below.

Nadine: We're going to be speaking with the CEO of a company that is back on the boards today after a prolonged, and we're talking three month, suspension. So Pioneer Credit came out with its full year results yesterday, statutory net loss of about $40 million, normalized earnings of $51.1 million, no final dividend declared. It has been a long, difficult road for the managing director of Pioneer Credit Keith John, and he is joining us now live from Perth with an update. Keith, welcome to the program, back on the boards. It must feel good. You've been through a very tough time. Give us a status update as to where you sit in terms of essentially funding.

Keith: Hi Nadine. Thanks so much for having me. Yes. Look, it's been a difficult road the past six to 12 months for the company. We've really focused during this period on getting the appropriate funding in place for the business. Unfortunately, the scheme of arrangement that was entered into on behalf of shareholders last year was terminated and we needed to refinance during what was arguably the most difficult period in markets for a very long time. But we're pleased to have announced a week ago and closed on Wednesday afternoon, a significant funding facility, which will see us through this period and beyond with Nomura in the amount of 190 million dollars. And that will give us the ability along with our free cash flow to continue our growth, a growth story from here.

Nadine: Okay. So how are you getting things back on track from here? I mean what's top of the list when it comes to your strategic focus.

Keith: We have an incredible operations team who have been working with our customers over time, we're a business that buys impaired credit predominantly off the banks. We've been working with our customers through the pandemic. And from here, we're really focused on continuing that work. The market for us is quite attractive. There's ample debt portfolios around to buy and banks want to be selling those to businesses that have a good compliance record and a great customer experience. And that's very much what Pioneer does. So our number one focus really is on focusing on our operations, ensuring that we continue to deliver the outcomes that the banks expect us to deliver to their customers who subsequently become our own. And then from there really working on positioning our business to take advantage of what we think will be a fairly good market for us in the next couple of years.

Nadine: I'm curious because not to be crass about it, but are recessions, are difficult economic times actually good for the Pioneer business, if you're able to buy this debt from the banks and where else would you look to buy debt from as well? It can't just be the banks.

Keith: Yeah, thanks Nadine. I mean, our business actually does better in better times. Just like everyone elses. We need to be working with people that have the ability to pay their debt. Most of our customers get into a situation because of a life event. Death, divorce, sickness might have lost their job. And obviously with Australians living very much week to week because of the cost of living those circumstances cause for some of them to be sold to us and we manage those. So we're very much about working with people and as things improve, obviously their capacity to repay and their capacity to pay down their debt, which Australians very much want to do is improved. That said through these periods, pricing is a little bit lower for us and that certainly offsets some of the lower type returns we might expect or payment commitments from our customers, but very much our business, like all businesses is about growth. And through a growing economy, we will grow better as well.

Essentially our business is focused on big bank debt. And the reason for that is because it’s the best quality credit in the market. Those customers have the highest capacity to return to payments and to return to their financial standing. And that’s certainly been our experience through this period where our payment arrangement book, which are the customers that are actually paying us on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis has grown to about 366 million dollars. We don’t buy payday of any description, but outside of that, there are also other markets which are the new financiers that are coming on market, the neobanks and certainly utilities and telecommunications companies as well.

Nadine: Ask about the neobank. So thanks for that. No final dividend, just to round it off Keith, what do investors have to look forward to?

Keith: Thanks Nadine, The quality of the underlying business. I think that's been lost or has the potential to be lost when you go through periods of challenge like Pioneer's been through in recent times. These have been a unique set of circumstances. They're not confined to us, of course, but certainly for us, it's about communicating with our shareholder base, demonstrating to them and proving to them that this is a business of quality and a business with increasing earnings and stability, which we've certainly had. And then over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, positioning to refinance our existing facility. It is on the higher side in terms of cost and our funders are obviously aware of that. These are unique times, but they're also very supportive of this business. And so we'll be working hard with them to continue to extract the value out of the business over the next few periods.

Nadine: Well, Keith, thank you for joining us today. It'll be nice, I'm sure, for you to see Pioneer Credit up in lights again on the boards, let's keep in touch. We'll see how you progress. Thank you.

Keith: Cool. Thank you very much.

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