UDC News

Sticking to vehicles, plant and machinery key to longevity - UDC

18 April 2013

Tessa Price

UDC, the company that financed the first Masport motor mower and the first commercial Hamilton jet boat, celebrates its 75th anniversary this week.

Current and former staff and customers will gathered in Auckland on Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary of the finance company that began life as Financial Services Ltd in the wake of the Great Depression in 1937.

“For 75 years UDC has financed the machinery that has built New Zealand,” says chief executive officer Tessa Price.

“Today is an opportunity to celebrate this milestone for UDC, but also to recognise the enormous achievements of our customers over the years.

“New Zealand’s hydro dams and highways were made with trucks and heavy plant financed by UDC," Price notes. "Generations of farmers have turned to UDC to finance the machinery that has made agriculture the foundation of what New Zealand is today.

“All of us at UDC are today enormously proud to be a part of growing this company and growing New Zealand.” 

Price says the key to UDC’s longevity through decades of economic, technological and political change has been its conservative and focused approach.

“The original idea behind the business was to provide industrial finance for New Zealand businesses, and it’s never deviated from that,” Price says.

“We’ve stuck to a strategy providing asset-based finance to New Zealand businesses for buying plant, vehicles and equipment, and not relying on land, buildings and speculative property developments."

“It’s been a privilege for everyone at UDC to have helped our customers through economic thick and thin, and to provide the finance to help them achieve great things.

“We’ve financed the machinery that built New Zealand," Price concludes. "We’re all looking forward to financing the machinery that will build New Zealand’s future.” 

UDC's New Zealand history:

1937 – UDC begins life as Financial Services Ltd, formed to rescue an ailing business called the New Zealand Investment Trust. The idea behind the business is to provide industrial finance for NZ businesses.

1951 – Financial Services Ltd is bought out by London-based United Dominions Trust, and renamed United Dominions Corporation.

1947 - 1957 – UDC provides finance for Masport to develop the first petrol lawn mower in New Zealand and finances the first Hamilton jet boat for commercial use.

1960s – UDC finances the equipment for the development of the Benmore Dam, Haast Highway, Wellington Airport, Hunua Dam and Ngauranga Gorge Motorway. It sells 20% of its shares to ANZ Banking Group (NZ) Ltd after a change in legislation permits trading banks to take direct interest in finance houses.

1970 – UDC goes public, with 28% of its shares bought by the public and 72% by ANZ.

1970s – UDC funds much of the heavy plant and equipment to build the Twizel Hydro Electric programme and other major civil works of the period. Annual profits exceeded $1 million for the first time.

1980 – Becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of ANZ.

1980s – While other finance companies opened offices in Auckland and Wellington CBDs, UDC opens offices in places like Penrose, Manukau and the Waikato. There were 22 branches in all – each close to its customers.

1987 – As finance companies that invested in financial markets crumble, UDC stays strong due to its policy of investing in NZ businesses. 

2002 – First franchisees appointed to sell UDC products. UDC becomes the first NZ finance company to reach $2 billion in lending.

2007 – UDC partners with the Ford Dealer network business.

2013 – Celebrates 75th anniversary.

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