WOES FOR THE BROS

Dalby Herald - - FRONT PAGE - John Weekes John.Weekes@news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

PEO­PLE and com­pa­nies owed mil­lions of dol­lars have been given two more months to fig­ure out how to save a big be­lea­guered re­sources com­pany from catas­tro­phe.

Ost­wald Bros owed about $61 mil­lion, Bris­bane Supreme Court heard yes­ter­day.

A hear­ing was held af­ter an ad­min­is­tra­tor said some cred­i­tors “came to the fore” and wanted more time to ar­range a meet­ing.

Jus­tice James Dou­glas said Ost­wald Bros was part of a re­sources and in­fra­struc­ture group pro­vid­ing “large scale” ser­vices to the min­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tors.

He said the com­pany did work that in­cluded civil engi­neer­ing and bulk haulage.

Com­pany turnover in the past fi­nan­cial year was about $178 mil­lion but it had a loss of about $25 mil­lion, Jus­tice Dou­glas said.

The com­pany likely owed about $30 mil­lion to ANZ Bank and about $31 mil­lion more to some 536 other cred­i­tors.

But how best to get that money back was yet to be fig­ured out.

Jus­tice Dou­glas said cred­i­tors wanted Ost­wald Bros to keep trad­ing as a going con­cern, be­cause that would pro­vide the best re­turn to peo­ple owed money.

Re­struc­tur­ing the com­pany was also be­ing con­sid­ered.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tors are in a sit­u­a­tion where they ei­ther wish to sell the as­sets or ob­tain a vi­able deed of com­pany ar­range­ment pro­posal,” the judge said.

Deed of com­pany ar­range­ments gen­er­ally aim to get a bet­ter re­turn for cred­i­tors than im­me­di­ate wind­ing up of a com­pany.

Three former em­ploy­ees ob­jected to the time ex­ten­sion.

“They are prob­a­bly un­der fi­nan­cial stress and would like to see the af­fairs of the com­pany re­solved sooner rather than later.”

But Jus­tice Dou­glas said it was “sig­nif­i­cant” ANZ sup­ported the ap­pli­ca­tion for a time ex­ten­sion.

An­other com­pany owed about $450,000 did not ap­pear in court to de­bate the is­sue.

In fact, no­body ap­peared in court to op­pose the ap­pli­ca­tion, the judge said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tors, PwC, also needed un­til Novem­ber 24 to give a re­port to cred­i­tors, the judge said.

The com­pany’s as­sets and “ge­o­graph­i­cal spread” needed to be bet­ter un­der­stood.

“Ve­hi­cles may still be in the pos­ses­sion of some em­ploy­ees ... ac­counts need to be up­dated.”

Jus­tice Dou­glas said he was per­suaded it was in the cred­i­tors’ best in­ter­ests to al­low more time for the meet­ing.

In a state­ment af­ter the hear­ing, PwC Aus­tralia ad­min­is­tra­tor Der­rick Vick­ers said sev­eral par­ties “came to the fore later in the process” and wanted more time for the sec­ond meet­ing.

PHOTO: MICHAEL DOYLE

HEAR­ING: Ost­wald Bros. first hear­ing was held yes­ter­day in a Bris­bane court.

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