Birnie's Bergdorf folds owing $11m

REBECCA STEVENSON
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
Bill Birnie
Fairfax NZ
Bill Birnie

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Former NBR Rich-Lister Bill Birnie's Bergdorf Investments has been liquidated with creditors - including the estate of his late wife - out of pocket more than $11 million.

Bergdorf was liquidated at the end of November by Birnie. In his first report liquidator Glenn Walker said the company owed $11m more than it held in assets.

Its principal assets comprised "various loans and investments made to growth technology-related companies", the report said.

Bergdorf believed its investments were worth about $17.9m but those assets were expected to have a realisable value of just over $1.9m, the liquidator said. The company was formerly known as Birnie Capital Partners until October 23 this year, just before its liquidation. Birnie is Bergdorf's sole director and shareholder.

He is a director and shareholder of Birnie Capital and is a current board member of public funding body Sport NZ and High Performance Sport New Zealand.

Walker said the businesses and assets the company had invested in required significant funding but the environment for "these types of investments" had deteriorated significantly in recent years.

Most of the businesses have ceased trading or are in liquidation.

One of them included failed biopharmaceutical company Protemix which went into liquidation in July 2010 owing creditors $2.14m. Birnie was the sole director of Protemix when it went bust. The company's intellectual property was sold to two of its co-founders, Garth and Margaret Cooper, for an undisclosed sum.

Walker said there were no further funding options for Bergdorf to continue operating and with the writeoff of the investments it had a "significant deficiency" of assets and shareholder funds.

BNZ held a first-ranking registered security for a bank facility of $25m.

BC Finance, another Birnie company, was owed over $11m.

More than $30,000 was owed to employees for holiday pay.

Unsecured creditors included the estate of Birnie's wife, Trish Birnie, which was owed $50,000. Unsecured trade creditors were owed $252,640. No distribution would be available to unsecured creditors, the report said.

Creditor Precinct Properties applied to liquidate Bergdorf in early November but that application wasn't due to be heard until January. Birnie did not respond to requests for an interview.

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