Deposits that support Home Capital Group Inc.'s mortgage portfolio are stabilizing as the alternative lender moves to restructure and find new funding sources while trying to restore customer and stakeholder confidence.
The Toronto-based company said on Monday that high-interest savings account balances at its subsidiary Home Trust were down slightly to $125.4-million as of Friday, compared with $125.5-million the day before. Less than two months ago, these accounts held close to $2-billion of customer money.
The pace of withdrawals accelerated in the past few weeks after the Ontario Securities Commission alleged on April 19 that the company and three executives failed to disclose fraudulent sales practices in 2015. Home Capital has said the allegations are "without merit" and none has been proven. Home Capital began to disclose its waning deposit base, giving rise to more concerns about the company.
In an effort to assuage those worries, company director and former banker Alan Hibben spoke with several news outlets on Monday, saying that the company was moving toward stability. But he warned in an interview with BNN that Home Capital will likely continue with a new strategy and "may never execute on its business plan" as it did in the first part of the year. "But it is going to have a robust business plan," he said.
This update follows efforts from directors and interim management on Friday to reassure stakeholders that the company is on the path to finding new sources of funding and fresh leadership. Home Capital expects the volume of new mortgage transactions and renewals will decline in the coming months as the company tightens its lending standards and cuts back on some broker incentive programs. It is also considering asset sales.
The Globe and Mail reported on Saturday that Home Capital came close to suspending business because of the quick depletion of its capital base in late April. A $2-billion emergency line of credit extended by a group of investors and backed by Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) enabled the business to continue operations, but it came with a punishingly high 10-per-cent interest rate.
"Funding remains Home Capital's most critical constraint, and the one most closely intertwined with the market's degree of confidence in the company," Brenna Phelan, an analyst at Raymond James, said in a note. "The lifeline HOOPP credit facility is not only costly, but the collateral it requires is also constrictive … we view repayment of this facility as an important step restoring confidence and demonstrating to the market that measured steps to maximize value are being taken."
The company has already withdrawn $1.4-billion from that facility, and Mr. Hibben said in a separate interview with Reuters that Home Capital may need to draw down some more capital to repay debt that comes due next week. Home Capital has said that one of its top priorities is to find a less onerous source of funding.
Home Capital's struggles have drawn attention from government officials as well as the regulators. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is supportive of Home Capital finding solutions to its deposit challenges within the marketplace, and added that he didn't think the firm's issues would likely have an impact on other lenders.
"We see the Home Capital issue as one that's specific to Home Capital. They're obviously trying to work through it to find a market-based solution to their funding challenges. We support them taking that market-based approach," Mr. Morneau told reporters Monday on Parliament Hill following a committee appearance.
"And in the interim, we will stay very focused on monitoring the situation to make sure that we protect anyone involved either as a depositor or as a mortgage holder at that institution," he said.
Over the weekend, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz also weighed in, saying the mortgage lender's troubles were unlikely to spill over to other companies, but expressed concern over the broader housing market and "unsustainable" home prices in some major centres such as Toronto and Vancouver.