Failed Matariki vineyard owes $11.2m

CLAIRE ROGERS
Last updated 13:57 08/11/2012

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Failed Hawke's Bay winery and vineyard Matariki Group owes creditors, including the Government, about $11.2 million, according to the receiver's first reports.

The companies in the Group, Matariki Wines – which produced the award-winning Matariki wines – and Stony Bay Wines – which owned the vineyard and the winery and supplied the grapes, were put into receivership in September.

The winery and vineyard are now on the market.

The first reports on the two companies by receiver Pricewaterhouse Coopers show secured and unsecured creditors are together owed about $11.2m, more than the $10.3m originally estimated.

First secured creditor Rabobank is owed $8.7m and Crown Asset Management – the government entity set up to handle South Canterbury Finance's loans after its collapse – is the second-ranked secured creditor, owed $2.2m.

Preferential creditors and creditors with claims on the Personal Property Securities Register include the Inland Revenue Department, owed an estimated $47,000 and employees, who were owed $48,000 by the companies when they went into receivership.

Unsecured creditors are owed about $136,000.

Pwc partner John Fisk said it was unlikely unsecured creditors would be paid.

He doubted the amount owed by the Group would increase dramatically.

"Not everyone has replied to our request for information about debts that are outstanding but we would expect we have probably got the majority of them."

A number of parties had expressed interest in buying the business. The winery and vineyard could be sold together or separately, he said.

Nine staff were still employed by the group, he said. Two staff had left after finding work elsewhere. The reports say Matariki suffered from weak sales after reduced harvests in 2011 and 2011, and this and a lack of capital impacted the group's financial viability. It then unsuccessfully tried to sell the businesses and assets which include tanks and barrels, 2149 litres of bottled wine and 245,416 litres of bulk wine.

Stony Bay's assets include 68 hectares of land at Kirkwood Road in Hastings, 49 hectares of vines, a fully operational 1700 square-metre winery, and associated buildings and equipment.

Matariki was established in 1981, when its directors former junior All Black John O'Connor and Rosemary O'Connor returned to New Zealand after studying wine in Europe. Its wines have won several awards. Last year its 2007 "Quintology" wine won a gold at the Hawke's Bay wine awards.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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