17/12/2008 - 22:00

Slim pickings in insolvency

17/12/2008 - 22:00

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NEXT year may be the year of the insolvency practitioner but the sector was certainly gearing up for business in 2008 as the older hands of the sector recognised the signs of a stumbling bull market.

Slim pickings in insolvency

NEXT year may be the year of the insolvency practitioner but the sector was certainly gearing up for business in 2008 as the older hands of the sector recognised the signs of a stumbling bull market.

The past year was not without its opportunities but overall it was still slim pickings as insolvency experts and restructuring advisers endured what seemed to be another year of boom.

Sure, Margaret River winemaker Palandri crashed, taking with it the dreams of Perth's dentists and other professionals at the top tax bracket who put in an estimated $160 million over 10 years. There was also the crash of Firepower, but there is unlikely to be much joy for creditors there, despite up to $100 million being invested.

At a national level, property groups such as Centro and infrastructure players like Babcock & Brown were failing or flailing, leaving huge chunks of assets up for grabs in WA.

In the minerals game, Michael Kiernan-led Monarch Gold Mining was placed into administration after a poor performance from its Davyhurst mine, despite the best efforts of its managing director to find a rescue deal.

In August, Matilda Minerals, another company previously linked to Mr Kiernan, who resigned as a director in June, decided to suspend operations at its Tiwi Islands mine due to rising operations costs and the then stronger Australian dollar. It went into administration two months later.

It was this kind of activity that sparked a rash of new appointments in the insolvency space as accounting firms and specialist partnerships realised that the skills shortage had stripped that field bare of talent.

Among the recent moves were: Mel Ashton, who returned to restructuring in a role at KPMG; Vince Smith, who has shifted from Deloitte to Ernst & Young; John Carello, who joined the Grant Thornton partnership in Perth, partnering with high-profile peer Tony Douglas-Brown; and Jeff Herbert, who became a partner in the new national PPB partnership.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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