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Feminine touch helps insolvency

BRINGING a feminine touch to the art of insolvency has helped Diana Newman forge a successful career.

“I could see there was a real challenge there because 53 per cent of the population are women,” Ms Newman said.

“And what a woman looks for in solving problems is different to a man.”

Ms Newman said in insolvencies – especially those of small businesses – women often looked for different things than their male partners.

“As a general rule, the husband is more concerned about saving the business while the wife is concerned about saving the family home,” he said.

Ms Newman has been involv-ed with insolvencies for more than thirty years.

She became Australia’s first female Registered Trustee in Bankruptcy in 1971, WA’s first woman Registered Liquidator of Companies in 1980 and in 1990 became Australia’s first female Official Liquidator.

She said the role of a liquidator varied.

“It can involve being the administrator of a company that is in trouble so as to arrange to pay out creditors either in part or in full before returning it to its directors and shareholders,” Ms Newman said.

Or it can involve winding up a company that has outlived its usefulness or cannot put toget-her a package to pay back its creditors in part or in full.

Ms Newman said there had been a very substantial increase in insolvencies in WA in the past few months.

There have been the high profile cases involving clothier Worths, boat builder Oceanfast and both the Subiaco Pavilion and Wanneroo Markets.

“A range of insolvency practitioners are saying they are finding themselves the busiest they have been for a long time,” Ms Newman said.

She said the insolvency spurt was due to a range of factors, including the Asian financial crisis and the collapse of commodity prices.

“WA does a lot of trade with Asia and the crisis had a major bearing on sales,” she said.

“And a lot of mining companies have scaled back demand due to the fall in commodity prices.

They are not buying from suppliers and that is in turn hurting the suppliers.

“The third factor is that a lot of people have been offered redundancy packages.

“They are keen to get into business but don’t necessarily have the skills to run a business,” she said.

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