Oceania

The receivers of Pumpkin Patch will have all stores closed by mid-February after they couldn't entice a buyer for the failed children's wear chain, which traded through the traditionally busy holiday period, The New Zealand Herald reported. Sixty-eight stores employing 560 people will close by Jan. 31, and the remaining 56 stores across New Zealand and Australia will shut as and when stock is sold, through the middle of next month, receiver Neale Jackson of KordaMentha said in a statement. Pumpkin Patch staff at head office will lose their jobs over the coming weeks.
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Australia’s economy added jobs in December, although not enough to prevent the unemployment rate edging up as participation in the workforce increased, Bloomberg News reported. December’s data caps a volatile year for Australian jobs, as declining participation for much of 2016 signaled more spare capacity than improved hiring figures suggested. There is some cause for optimism as participation picked up and full-time roles climbed toward the end of the year.
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Pumpkin Patch Owes ANZ Bank $59.5 Million

Pumpkin Patch owes its bank nearly $60 million and its unsecured creditors another $13.2m. A receivers' report by Brendon Gibson and Neale Jackson of KordaMentha shows the children's clothing company, which was put into receivership in October, owed $59.5m, chiefly to the ANZ. Preferred creditors, largely the 1600 staff it employed in the lead-up to its receivership, were still owed $1.5m. Inland Revenue had not submitted a claim yet. It was too early to say whether the $13.2m owed to unsecured creditors could be retrieved, the report said.
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Millionaire property magnates the Chow brothers have been forced to buy a fire services company to protect a bank loan they bought earlier this year, Business Day reported. Michael and John Chow, with their business partner Clint Webber, made a quick decision to buy AFS Total Fire Protection after the Inland Revenue Department threatened to put the company into liquidation on Friday. AFS Total Fire Protection designs, builds and installs fire protection systems to making sure building complies with fire regulations.
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All 132 stores in the Payless Shoes network will close by February 2017, after administrators for the retail chain were unable to find a buyer for the business as a whole, SmartCompany.com.au reported. Administrators from Ferrier Hodgson said on Wednesday afternoon approximately 730 employees will be affected by the closures, although some employee contracts may be transferred to interested parties throughout the closure process. The administrators said they will now work with “interested parties and landlords” to transfer or close the Payless Shoes stores.
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Two of Australia’s biggest banks have agreed to pay a combined fine of 15 million Australian dollars (€10.5 million) after admitting to attempted cartel conduct aimed at rigging the benchmark rate for the Malaysian ringgit, the Irish Times reported. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australia’s competition watchdog, said on Friday that ANZ Bank had admitted to 10 instances of attempted cartel conduct, while Macquarie had admitted to eight instances in 2011.
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Insolvent Australian industrial group Arrium Ltd's U.S. based Moly-Cop division has been sold to private equity firm American Industrial Partners for $1.23 billion, two sources close to the deal said, ending a drawn out sale process, Reuters reported. "I can confirm it is American Industrial Partners," one source said. Moly-Cop, which makes steel balls to grind ore and operates mostly in the United States and Latin America, also attracted interest from KPS Capital, a private equity limited partnerships with about $5.5 billion of assets under management.
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China’s growing debt mountain poses a risk to Australia’s financial stability, a senior politician has warned, just weeks after the continent celebrated a quarter century of growth without a recession. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, accounting for A$150bn of two-way trade in 2015. Beijing is also an important foreign investor in Australia, leaving Canberra potentially among the developed nations most exposed to a Chinese downturn.
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China’s growing debt mountain poses a risk to Australia’s financial stability, a senior politician has warned, just weeks after the continent celebrated a quarter century of growth without a recession. China is Australia’s largest trading partner, accounting for A$150bn of two-way trade in 2015. Beijing is also an important foreign investor in Australia, leaving Canberra potentially among the developed nations most exposed to a Chinese downturn.
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Software company Wynyard Group has been put in voluntary administration. KordaMentha partners Neale Jackson and Grant Graham have been appointed administrators of the company, which creates security software for use by companies and law enforcement agencies. It's been a difficult year for Wynyard, with its board warning in August that the company's future was in question and signalling uncertainty underlying its assumptions about cash-flow and future sales.
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