$3.6 million in debts for Alstonville macadamia company
STRUGGLING macadamia roasting and salting company Macaz could face debts of more than $3.6 million including unpaid factory rent, creditors of the Northern Rivers business have heard.
Condon Associates Group managing principal Schon Condon delivered the update to a room of around 30 creditors, including at least one employee, lawyers and media at the Lismore Workers Club on Tuesday.
The Alstonville-based company went into voluntary administration after one of its creditors applied to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission in November for the business to be wound up.
Mr Condon said he would do everything within his power "to preserve what value there is for everyone" and "to preserve jobs and industry in the area" but the future of the company would be unclear until at least January 16, when creditors could expect a report.
Investigations were preliminary and he was yet to see a finished report from directors but Mr Condon said a lack of funding and commercial judgment as well as "broadly poor advice along the way" seemed to have led the company to financial disarray.
"I've been fed a whole lot of information ... but whether that information is valid and responsible, I've yet to determine," he said.
"If any creditor is aware of any information ... I implore you to advise administrators as early as possible."
All submissions would be investigated but Mr Condon said anonymous submissions tended to be "rubbish" and he urged creditors to include names under the assurance privacy would be protected.
Most creditors were in "this regional area", he said but Bluewater Lawyers representative Nick Eckers said he was acting on behalf of four external companies, including Swiss Gourmet Hong Kong, Swiss Gourmet Australia and at least one Chinese company.
Mr Eckers' clients wanted their lawyer to take control of the Macaz administration but the suggestion was overwhelmingly knocked back by creditors in the room via a formal vote, with one man telling the Queensland-based lawyer to "sit down, you've had your say".
"What are the [company's] funds?" Mr Eckers asked Mr Condon.
"There are none," replied Mr Condon, who corrected Mr Eckers on his understanding of applicable law at least twice during the meeting.
Mr Condon said his priority would be to hire debt collectors to claw back any money owed to Macaz.
Around $400,000 was expected from debtors in January, he said and his aim was to "focus on commercial reality, maximising return to creditors" whilst figuring out the best "practical and reasonable ways [for Macaz] to continue".
Directors had indicated a desire to make a plan, Mr Condon said, but were unlikely to deliver before Christmas.
The company was about to enter its annual holiday and Mr Condon said workers were casuals who did not expect to start work again until January.
Workers had gone two weeks without pay but the administrator said he managed to secure funds for wages, excluding entitlements, just in time for the meeting.
"Nothing will be done behind creditors' backs," Mr Condon said.
Creditors voted not to form a committee but could decide to form one later and are expected to meet again with company directors around January 24.