Why anyone would want to save the failed Managed Investment Scheme companies, Timbercorp and Great Southern is beyond comprehension after reading the second creditors report for Timbercorp from administrations, KordaMentha.

Timbercorp is broke, so broke that there’s no point in saving it; every part of the business is insolvent and if money can’t be found to keep head office open then the company will be shut down.

It needs the best part of half a billion dollars over the next year to keep going, its most important asset, around $750 million of intercompany receivables is all but worthless; all 40 companies in the group are insolvent.

If KordaMentha can’t find up to $1.2 million-a-month to keep head office going and all the IT and computerised records of the group updated, the company will have to close completely. If that happens, the records and other information won’t be updated.

The Timbercorp figures are very bad news for the bigger failure in Great Southern. Its assets will soon appear on the market and together with Timbercorp they will drive down values the liquidators can get for the assets of either, and will depress market values in the timber, and horticulture sectors for months to come.

The KordaMentha report discloses no apparent breaches by the company, such as trading while in solvent or other breaches by the board and management. It sees the credit crunch, drought, recession and falling prices and demand for timber products, especially woodchips in Japan, and rising arrears from investors, as the main reasons for the collapse.

“It is our opinion that it would be in creditors’ interests for each company within the group to be wound up,” KordaMentha said. “No DOCA (deed of company arrangement) has been proposed, and it is not in creditors’ interests to bring the administrations to an end.” (A dead of company arrangement is a way of reorganising the company’s affairs so as to give it a chance of trading out of its present position).

KordaMentha said the companies in the Timbercorp group are insolvent. They detailed how the company needs a total of $252.5 million in the 2010 financial year to pay for plantation maintenance, lease rentals, land and equipment and capital expenditure for the company’s almond plantations alone.

A further $135 million would be needed for the same reasons for the company’s mango, avocado, table grapes and olives ($66 million for this group alone). Close to $39 million would be needed at a minimum to keep the company’s forestry plantations in operation for the 2010 year.

Head office has all the information on the various schemes, investors and corporate details of the businesses. If it was to close, the whole group would shut down, the administrators said.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey