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Insolvency

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  • PPB Advisory was appointed as a ‘trustee in bankruptcy’ for ABC Learning founder Eddy Groves. PPB (who were also appointed over ABC for a period of time) is now charged with the task of hunting down the assets of Groves…and Groves himself. In addition to clocking up frequent flyer points in an international variant of ‘Where’s Wally,’  PPB is also likely to look into payments made by ABC to a related company, Queensland Maintenance Services. Alas, QMS tipped over in February last year after the ATO judged that a $35m deduction for ‘renovation compensation’ was a trifle excessive and slapped a $28m tax bill on the company.
  • Baby products retailer Mothercare Australia has appointed BRI Ferrier as administrators after sale talks with the Myer Family Company collapsed. Despite overseeing sales growth of 21%, Mothercare reported a loss of $12.3m last year.

 Ongoing

  • Creditors of the collapsed engineering company Hastie Group have voted for all 42 Hastie subsidiaries to be placed into liquidation. Hastie entered administration in mid-2012 owing an estimated $500m to financiers and creditors. As Hastie’s liquidator, PPB Advisory is continuing to investigate the cause of the collapse. 
  • PPB Advisory, administrators of the failed Brisbane financier Wickham Securities, have called for the company to be liquidated. Investors are expected to recover between 6c and 22c in the dollar. Wickham entered administration in January owing $27m to investors.
  • Jan Cameron, Retail Adventures‘ sole shareholder and largest secured creditor, is set to regain control of the failed discount chain for more than $70m, three months after it collapsed owing creditors $270m. Cameron’s offer is pending approval by financier ANZ and administrators Deloitte.

Market watch

  • The NAB has extended its debt facilities with Casella Wines after the Australian winemaker breached debt covenants in January.  Casella is highly exposed to the strong Australian dollar and is banking on a successful push into premium and luxury wines to buffer it from losses in its US export business. 
  • Beleaguered road-toll operator BrisConnections has submitted a final restructure proposal to its lenders, which could see the company slash operational and overhead costs and put in place a ‘pay-if-you-can’ debt agreement on its $3b debt. If the company’s lenders reject the proposal, BrisConnections’ Airport Link is tipped to fall into receivership.
  • Moore Stephens is creating a new insolvency division, absorbing four partners from collapsed rival BDO NSW-Victoria.

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