Baa humbug – bemusing bleatings from the Judas sheep who led investors to be bled by Hanover

Alf is unmoved by former One News presenter Richard Long’s expressions of remorse.

Nor does he feel any sorrow that Long has lost money.

He concedes that not a spark of sympathy was struck when he learned this morning that Long regrets his role as the television voice for Hanover Finance and says he has lost about $50,000 himself.

Until now, he says, he has hardly spoken about the aftermath of the Hanover collapse which left thousands of mum-and-dad investors out of pocket.

“Nothing has changed. But I feel bad about the deal – really bad,” Long said from his home in the Coromandel.

And so he bloody should.

Many investors would have been attracted to Hanover Finance by Long, who fronted One News between 1988 and 2003, with a gap in 1999.

People are suckers for looking at, reading about and admiring TV personalities (and in this case they were suckered by one).

The only satisfaction Hanover Finance investors can get, if they were gulled by Long’s safe and sure image into believing their money would be safe and sure, is the knowledge that he too has lost money.

After a debt-for-equity deal with Allied Farmers, he said, he was about $50,000 out of pocket.

“It was my biggest single investment,” he said.

The Herald reminds us today that Long’s voiceover ad for Hanover sponsorship ran several times each night. The TV ad campaign was aimed at mum-and-dad investors.

“This One Weather Update is brought to you by Hanover, a New Zealand business with the size and strength to withstand any conditions,” Long said in the plugs.

That pap should have been followed by the Tui ad: yeah, right..

The Herald goes on –

In June 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against Hanover over the ad.

The complainant, who was a financial adviser, said Long’s scripted statement was “grossly misleading” because of the financial downturn.

The ASA ruled it breached two principles: social responsibility and the basic tenet of truth clarity.

But did Long blindly lend his name and reputation to the Hanover cause?

Not according to his account of what happened.

Before taking on the work, Long researched the firm, including an article by Herald columnist Deborah Hill Cone which raised concerns.

Wow. It’s got have been profoundly deep research when Deborah Hill Cone’s scribblings became part of it.

But wait. There’s more.

And, he said, he had looked at protections in regulations – which were later shown to have no effect.

After the company hit the wall last year, Herald columnist Brian Gaynor described Hanover Finance as “one of the worst examples of poor corporate governance and the country’s inadequate securities markets’ regulatory regime” .

Long said he would not be doing an endorsement again.

“But nobody would want me to anyway,” he said.

At least he got that right

But we are left with an unanswered question: how much was the bugger paid to front Hanover?

It’s all very well to bleat about a $50,000 loss. But Alf suspects he did rather nicely, thank you, as the company’s Judas sheep.

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