Yacht builder in China

JIM CHIPP
Last updated 15:30 03/07/2012

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High-tech racing yacht builder Hakes Marine has re-opened for business - in China.

The Seaview-based boat building company headed by Paul Hakes went into liquidation in April, reportedly owing creditors almost $670,000 and leaving about 16 people out of work.

A media release last week announced that the company has re-opened for business in Xiamen, China, headed by Mr Hakes in association with Hudson Yacht and Marine.

Hakes Marine specialised in high-tech racing yachts 12 metres to 22m long. The release also announced a new model range and the website showed off vessels the company built in Seaview.

Seaview Marina was one of Hakes Marine's creditors at the time of its liquidation.

Marina manager Allan McLellan said it was owed $3283 as an unsecured creditor and it had not been paid.

He said he attended the liquidator's auction of the company assets.

"Paul Hakes' wife was bidding, which I thought was on the nose.

"They were buying stuff back and taking it off to China. I didn't think they were allowed to do that."

Receiver Andrew Croad understood Mr Hakes was working for somebody else in China.

He was confident he had obtained all the company assets on behalf of creditors.

Creditors of the Seaview company had not been paid in full and were unlikely to be, he said.

"It is not likely there is going to be a distribution to unsecured creditors so nobody is going to be happy about that."

He had no problem with Mr Hakes' wife buying the company equipment from the liquidation auction.

"What she does in her private capacity doesn't make any difference to us," he said.

Abraham Lee was a leading hand at Hakes in Seaview.

He had not been paid holiday pay, redundancy or for the last few days' work but said Mr Hakes had done well to stay in business in the past two years.

"In the end I think the bank told him he had to go into voluntary liquidation."

He believed the receiver had told Mr Hakes not to pay the staff for the previous week's work, but he had done so anyway.

"To be honest, I think Paul Hakes was a great bloke for us," he said.

"He was a good boat builder. It would be a total loss if he couldn't set up somewhere else."

Speaking from China, Mr Hakes said he was an employee of Hudson Yachts and was running their high performance yacht division under his own name.

Hakes Marine's debts had been over-estimated, he said.

He had borrowed $300,000 personally to reduce the company debt at the time of the liquidation, on top of $300,000 he had borrowed three years before to prop up the company.

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"We actually tried to come out of it owing a few people very little," he said.

"In the end I had to pull the pin to stop the company accumulating debt at an exponential level."

He said he did not want to live in China but was doing so because it was the only way he could repay the personal debt.

Mr Hakes said his wife attended the auction and bid on behalf of a friend, and none of the technical boat-building equipment she bought has left New Zealand.

"My staff know that I did everything I possibly could to save the company. Any other sensible businessman would have closed the company three years back. I persisted and I ended up with another $600,000 debt for a decade of good work."

- Hutt News

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