Crafar receiver fees nudge $7m

23:03, Jun 05 2012

Receiver fees in the tortuous Crafar farms disposal saga are nudging $7 million and the billing clock is still ticking.

KordaMentha's latest reports to the Companies Office for the 16 farm receivership show the receivers claimed another $729,405 for the period October 5 to April 4.

In the previous six month billing period to October last year, the receivers' fees were $1 million, at the time taking KordaMentha's bill for the Crafar farm receivership to more than $6m.

Legal fees for the October 5 to April 4 were $321,858, taking the legal bill tally to $4.7m.

The central and southern North Island dairy farm estate operated by four companies was put into receivership by its bankers and financiers in October 2009.

As at April this year total bank debt owing financiers was $274m.

Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin is the receivers' preferred bidder for the farms and its bid has been approved twice by the Government on the recommendation of its agency the Overseas Investment Office.  

However court challenges by a group of Kiwi farmers and iwi led by Sir Michael Fay have stalled the Chinese purchase with the latest High Court hearing scheduled for next month.

Pengxin has said it intends to be farming the properties, which total nearly 8000 hectares, by spring, but will not comment on whether the purchase is yet unconditional.  

Insolvency specialists have said the Crafar receivership is uncommon, so the costs are difficult to compare to those of other big receiverships.

The latest receivers' report show preferential claims against Plateau Farms, the largest company in the former Crafar family business, with nine central North island farms, totalled $229,000 and have been paid in full.

However unsecured creditors owed around $2.5m by this company are unlikely to get any money back, the receivers have repeated.

The Ferry View Farms company which operates a dairy farm in Scott's Ferry, Manawatu has also settled in full preferential claims of $171,000 against it.

Unsecured creditors owed $5.6m when KordaMentha was called in in 2009 are also unlikely to see any money.

Hillside Limited, which operates five dairy farms throughout the central North Island has settled preferential claims totalling $107,000, but outstanding creditors owed around $2m are unlikely to see it.

Taharua Limited, which owns and operates a large-scale dairy farm at Taupo has paid in full preferential creditors $58,000, the receivers said.

This company owes unsecured creditors $474,000 which is unlikely to be paid out.