Less than a week after new chief Tony D’Aloisio was beating his pecs in front of the Senate Estimates Committee, ASIC has had its hairy chest waxed. Turns out it isn’t really getting tough with the dubious end of the high-yield debenture business and it’s not particularly keen on disclosure either.
With the Westpoint, Fincorp and ACR failures putting $1 billion at risk, the savings of 20,000 uninformed investors, ASIC fronted the committee armed with plenty of information on the nature of the collapses and an “action plan”.
D’Aloisio described 83 issuers of $8 billion worth of unlisted and unrated high-yield debentures as “the highest risk sector” of the $34 billion high-yield debenture market, saying “ASIC has now made this sector a clear priority”.
ASIC sleuths had analysed the financial reports of all the nation’s debenture issuers to categorise the 83. So, after years of misleading advertising, the naïve public would at least be told which outfits ASIC considered the most risky… not.
Asked for the names of the 83, ASIC went to water and refused to give the information to Crikey. So much for disclosure and letting the public decide.
Instead, ASIC is going to “develop a series of investor education programs”. (No, seriously, that’s one-third of ASIC’s three-point plan.) It has formed a team and will review the situation in a year’s time. By then it will probably have another couple of collapses to study.
So, the question now for ASIC’s chairman runs like this: Would you invest in any of the debentures on your list of 83? My guess is that you wouldn’t, so if that list is good enough to provide some guidance for you, why not share it with the public?