Organic food firm Pitango in receivership

CLAIRE ROGERS AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 11:03 04/12/2012
Pitango
Pitango makes soups, curries, risottos, sauces and pastas that are sold in supermarkets.

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Auckland-based organic food company Pitango has been placed into receivership along with its Australian parent company, which is understood to owe millions of dollars to its creditors. 

Pitango, with around 25 staff, makes a range of soups, curries, risottos, sauces and pastas which are sold in supermarkets. 

Receivers Ferrier Hodgson said in a statement that Pitango's parent company, Gourmet Food Holdings, had been placed into receivership and that included Pitango, Australian tomato sauce firm Rosella, and Australian biscuit firm Waterwheel. 

Creditors had tried to find a buyer for the company but failed and it went into voluntary administration on Friday. It was then put into receivership by the secured creditor.  

Fairfax understands Gourmet Food Holdings owes millions to creditors, including as much as A$50 million to National Australia Bank. 

The company and its subsidiaries together employ about 275 people. 

Pitango referred questions to Ferrier Hodgson in Melbourne. 

A Ferrier Hodgson spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald it was too early to say whether there would be any job losses. 

Ferrier Hodgson partner Steve Sherman said in the statement that it would undertake an urgent assessment of the financial position of the group. 

"We will be engaging in discussions with key stakeholders including employees, customers and suppliers to determine whether operations can be continued."

Receivers would begin looking for expressions of interest over the next few days to try to identify potential buyers for the group or its individual businesses. 

Gourmet Food Holdings is ultimately owned by private equity firm Crescent Capital.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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