Sixty Chch workers among Mainzeal's 200 laid off

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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The receivers of failed Mainzeal Property and Construction and associated companies have made about 60 Christchurch workers redundant out of about 200 nationwide to lose their jobs.

The receivers, PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Colin McCloy and David Bridgman, announced the layoffs at New Zealand's third-largest construction company yesterday.

They are also in negotiations with a few companies wanting to buy Mainzeal and/or its work contracts, but are giving no indication of when a sale or sales are likely.

Mainzeal was placed in receivership on Waitangi Day at the request of its owner, Richard Yan, a Chinese businessman who lives in Auckland.

The day before Waitangi Day, the company's independent directors, including Dame Jenny Shipley and former Brierley boss Paul Collins, quit as directors.

"With the suspension of work on all Mainzeal sites, the receivers have found it necessary to review the company's staffing level in order to urgently reduce cash operating costs, and as a result, a number of staff have been made redundant," the receivers said.

They were still reviewing about 48 Mainzeal work sites to determine which projects to continue with. They would try to talk to all site owners in the coming days. About 16 of those sites are in Christchurch.

Mainzeal and its associated companies had about 180 employees in Christchurch, of whom up to 60 had been made redundant, a spokeswoman said.

The receivers' spokeswoman said that nationwide, Mainzeal had about 400 employees and associated companies had about another 150.

Some Mainzeal staff in Christchurch were already receiving job offers and some up to three offers.

Industry sources said those made redundant in Christchurch were carpenters, project managers, foremen, site managers, quantity surveyors and administrative staff.

A good number of the carpenters were being snapped up by other building companies in Christchurch.

Only about 15 staff at Mainzeal Property and Construction escaped the axe. Most of the Mainzeal staff at the joint venture, MWH Mainzeal, managing Canterbury earthquake repairs for insurer Vero, had kept their positions.

"We are currently in talks with some parties interested in buying the business and assets of Mainzeal, either as a whole or by segment," McCloy said.

"We understand the importance of a prompt and efficient management of this receivership and we remain committed to working as quickly as possible through this receivership."

People in the industry say the causes of the collapse included more than $30 million of leaky building claims, and a disputed contract over Mainzeal's work on the upgrade of the high voltage line from Benmore to Haywards, near Wellington.

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Mainzeal had a reputation for winning contracts on low prices but that left it with tight margins on the work it secured.

- The Press

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