Home Capital Group Inc. has had its credit rating slashed again, reflecting dwindling confidence in the beleaguered mortgage lender as depositors flee.
The rating agency DBRS said the downgrade is connected to Home Capital's announcement on Tuesday that it will postpone the release of its first-quarter financial results until after the market closes on May 11. The company, which specializes in non-prime or alternative mortgages, had planned to release its results on May 2.
On April 19, the Ontario Securities Commission revealed allegations that the company improperly disclosed financial information.
"DBRS considers this delay in announcing results as a negative, especially given that the initial Ontario Securities Commission's (OSC) hearing regarding the Statement of Allegations made against three former members of HCG's senior management is scheduled for May 4, 2017. These events are likely to continue to draw unfavourable attention to the Group," the rating agency said in a release on Wednesday evening.
DBRS lowered its rating on Home Capital to CCC from BB, which the agency considers "very highly speculative grade quality" and one notch away from likely default.
It also lowered the financial instrument ratings on Home Trust Company, a subsidiary, to R-5 from R-4. This is the lowest rating, and is considered highly speculative.
In a statement, DBRS said Home Trust has not demonstrated an ability to stabilize its funding and liquidity after depositors withdrew money from the company's high-interest saving accounts – liabilities that are used to back the trust's non-prime mortgages.
A pension fund has set up a line of credit of as much as $2-billion to help offset the withdrawals, but Home Capital is paying an exorbitant 22.5 effective rate of interest on the first $1-billion drawn on the financial lifeline. As well, questions have been raised about the fate of nearly $13-billion worth of guaranteed investment certificates as they become due.
Home Capital's share price collapsed last week after it announced it was seeking a financial lifeline.
DBRS views GICs as more stable than high-interest savings account deposits, since the majority of GICs are not redeemable ahead of their maturity date.
The rating agency said it will continue to review the situation as it considers the company's ability to maintain broker relationships for mortgage originations and funding.
"The review will focus on the ongoing viability of HCG. One consideration is HTC's ability to stabilize liquidity and funding at a reasonable cost. Another consideration is its ability to hire key senior management," DBRS said in a statement.
Home Capital could not be reached for comment on Wednesday evening.