27/08/2007 - 15:43

E&T debts balloon to $185m

27/08/2007 - 15:43

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Evans & Tate creditors today met to form a committee in an attempt to try and recoup $185 million they are owed by the Margaret River winery, although administrator Ferrier Hodgson partner Martin Jones believes the process will be difficult.

E&T debts balloon to $185m

Evans & Tate creditors today met to form a committee in an attempt to try and recoup $185 million they are owed by the Margaret River winery, although administrator Ferrier Hodgson partner Martin Jones believes the process will be difficult.

Ferrier Hodgson today revealed E&T's total interest bearing liabilities stood at about $150 million, while its assets had a book value of about $108 million.

ANZ Bank is the secured creditor against the bulk of the interest bearing liabilities and has appointed a receiver, which is in the process of selling the company's assets to repay the bank's debt.

In a brief balance sheet made available to creditors today, the book value of E&T's assets included property, plant and equipment worth $32.2 million, wine stock and other inventories worth $45 million and recivables in the order of $22 million.

Mr Jones admitted the task to recoup funds for creditors would be a challenge.

After the ANZ Bank, which is owed $97.2 million, convertible WInES preference shareholders are owed $30 million, leases covering vineyards are owed $20 million and so too are the winery's noteholders. Grape growers are owed about $5 million, trade creditors, including bottling group Portavin, are owed $3.7 million while employees are owed $4 million.

Mr Jones said even if the book value of the assets were realised there was a "substantial deficiency" between assets and liabilities.

Mr Jones said he intended to apply for an extension of the next creditors meeting beyond the required 28 days from his appointment, largely because the bank's receivers anticipated it would take two to three months to sell the winery.

Mr Jones said he anticipated the next creditors meeting would be held in about two to three months when he had a better idea of what options were available to the creditors.

Mr Jones did know the state of E&T's trading performance or whether it had posted a loss in the past year.

The administrator also said it would investigate grower contracts the company entered into with former executive chairman Franklin Tate, who resigned as a director a fortnight ago.

"We will be investigating whether that was at arms length or whether ther is some action creditors may take," Mr Jones said.

"It will be one of the points to be investigated. It will be something we will be zeroing in on."

He said the company would continue to pay its employees and their entitlements would be paid when they fell due.

 

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