15/02/2005 - 21:00

Creditors target JR Marine

15/02/2005 - 21:00

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Creditors target JR Marine

Wavemaster creditors have cleared the way for the company’s liquidator, KordaMentha, to pursue a $4.7 million legal action against the failed shipbuilder’s Singaporean parent JR Marine.

If successful, that action could return 100 cents in the dollar to creditors.

However, the proceedings to seek progress payments it is alleged were not made on a partially completed vessel WaveMaster was building for JR Marine will be complicated by the fact JR Marine is based in Singapore.

Creditors also came close to forcing original WaveMaster administrator William Buck to go to court to claim the $40,061 it was owed for the work it did on the administration.

Some WaveMaster staff members have also voiced concerns that they will not receive redundancy payouts.

WaveMaster creditors voted on February 15 to put the Henderson-based ship builder into liquidation.

The company’s administrators, KordaMentha partners Brian McMaster and Oren Zohar, have been appointed as liquidators.

Mr McMaster told the second creditors’ meeting that he wanted to investigate the validity of pursuing legal action against JR Marine.

He told WA Business News after the meeting that, with creditors’ claims totalling about $2 million and a potential payout of $4.7 million, creditors should get fully paid if the claim succeeded.

Creditors could know the chances of a successful legal outcome when they meet again after Easter.

Mr McMaster had already sold some of WaveMaster’s assets, including a block of land at Henderson, in January. Those sales raised about $2.7 million.

He said if the company had not gone any further creditors would have received about 25 cents in the dollar.

Mr McMaster is in the process of trying to sell the uncompleted vessel WaveMaster had been working on for JR Marine.

He said there was a potential buyer but would give no indication of how much he expected to recoup from any sale.

Some former staff members, some of whom have been with WaveMaster for several years, are concerned that they will not receive redundancy payments due to the way their employment contracts were worded.

GEERS, the Federal Government’s employee entitlement protection scheme, has refused to pay the workers any redundancy benefits because there is no redundancy clause in their contracts.

Mr McMaster said he would take legal advice on the veracity of those employees’ redundancy claims at the end of the liquidation.

“If we receive advice that they have a valid claim then they will be treated as priority creditors like other employees,” he said.

William Buck partners David Young and Anthony Elkerton had some respite when creditors agreed to pay their firm the $40,000 it claimed in fees.

The firm was appointed administrator of WaveMaster on November 4 and that stewardship lasted until November 11 when creditors voted to have Korda Mentha appointed as administrators.

Creditors were concerned that William Buck had a conflict of interest due to claims that William Buck Sydney had been WaveMaster’s auditor, a claim disputed by Mr Elkerton and Mr Young.

The meeting was told JR Marine had paid about $50,000 towards the appointment of William Buck.

KordaMentha made $244,349 in fees for its work from November 11 to February 14.

Creditors approved fees of up to $100,000 for its work from February 15 to the date of the next creditors’ meeting.

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