Oceania

In good news for insolvency firms but not much else, insolvencies are rising and the number of retailers appointing external administrators is also up, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Electronics chain Dick Smith, home furnishings company Laura Ashley Australia and clothing retailer Man To Man are among retailers to have gone under recently. John Winter, chief executive of the industry body Australian Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association, said after a quiet collapse of years, insolvency firms are now hiring staff as the end of the resources boom starts to bite.
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Troubled Australian steel group Arrium Ltd, which collapsed last month after creditors rejected a private equity bailout, will hire a global investment bank to advise on the sale of its profitable Moly-Cop mining supplies unit, the firm's administrator said on Monday. Moly-Cop, which makes steel balls to grind ore, among other items, operates mostly in the United States and Latin America, and had been excluded until now from Arrium's restructuring after a private equity sale collapsed last year.
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Businessman and retiring federal MP Clive Palmer will sue the administrators of his beleaguered Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville for $1.2 billion, ABC News reported. Mr Palmer said he would sue FTI Consulting in the coming weeks for allegedly lying in a report to creditors and illegally diverted money from his companies. Queensland Nickel appointed FTI Consulting as administrators in January to oversee the refinery after it went into voluntary administration. The company went into liquidation last month owing creditors more than $150 million.
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Retailer Super Retail Group will book restructuring costs and write-downs of $43 million this year as its revamps the loss-making Ray's Outdoors chain and fixes an online sporting goods business, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The one-off costs, which include $28.5 million in cash costs and $14.5 million in non-cash charges and writedowns, will dent Super Retail Group's bottom line profits in 2016. Analysts are currently expecting the group to report a net profit before one-off costs of $109 million.
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Debt-laden Australian steel maker Arrium Ltd will get a new administrator after the company's major lenders and workers union filed an application in a federal court seeking to have Grant Thornton replaced, Reuters reported. The application seeks to appoint KordaMentha as replacement voluntary administrators of Arrium and 93 of its Australian subsidiaries. Grant Thornton said in a statement that it supported the application. The decision comes a week ahead of the first creditors' meeting. Arrium went into administration last week with debts exceeding A$2.8 billion ($2.14 billion).
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Australia’s government has been dealt a political blow ahead of a knife-edge election, with thousands of jobs plunged into doubt after the country’s second-biggest steelmaker went into administration, the Financial Times reported. The troubles at Arrium have helped push the ruling Liberal-National coalition behind the opposition Labor party in the polls for the first time since Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister in September.
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McAleese has started exclusive negotiations with Hong Kong-based hedge fund SC Lowy over a financial restructuring and extended its trading suspension for another month, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The troubled transport group received three indicative proposals from financial groups prepared to help fund a debt restructure, but has given SC Lowy exclusive negotiating rights until April 15. McAleese' net debt rose to $188 million in the six months to December compared with $170.5 million a year earlier and the company has a "current asset deficiency" of $163.2 million.
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Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer said on Sunday his nickel refinery in Queensland will be idle for at least eight weeks, due to a lack of ore and because government authorities have not yet fully approved its operation, Reuters reported. Speaking on Australian Broadcasting Corporation television, Palmer said the refinery is offline because there is "no ore" for it to process. "It will take at least eight weeks to get ore on the ground so the refinery could operate," Palmer said.
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The proposed sale of a state-owned iron-ore port in Australia illustrates how quickly the slump in commodity prices has ground down the hopes that once accompanied the country’s resources boom, The Wall Street Journal reported. The lower house of Western Australia’s legislature last week approved plans to sell a long-term lease over the Utah Point port in the state’s Pilbara iron-ore mining region.
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Bankrupt consumer electronics retailer Dick Smith Holdings Ltd will close down its remaining 363 stores in Australia and New Zealand after failing to find a buyer, receivers and managers of the company said on Thursday, Reuters reported. "Unfortunately the sale process has not resulted in any acceptable offers for the group as a whole or for Australia or New Zealand as standalone businesses," receiver James Stewart said in a statement.
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