BANKSIA - DEBENTURES

The failure of Victorian debenture issuer Banksia Securities Limited is likely to lead to further changes across the debenture sector.  Banksia is clearly seen as a priority area by ASIC, as an internal task force has been announced, and the ASIC website has a dedicated link for Banksia.  It seems likely that there will be consideration as to whether relatively small financial institutions should be able to issue debentures to relatively inexperienced retail investors.  ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft said last week that "the task force's work may involve making recommendations to Treasury about law reform given that we have pushed the existing conduct and disclosure regime to its limit."

Clear parallels are being drawn between Banksia and Westpoint.  However, preliminary indications are that many investors chose to invest directly into Banksia, and that there may not be significant involvement of advisers.  Preliminary losses seem to be in the order of several hundred million dollars.