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Solid Energy Board places company into voluntary administration

The Board of Solid Energy New Zealand Limited (SENZ) has today placed the company and all associated companies into voluntary administration (VA), a process which allows the company to continue trading while creditors consider the best way forward.

KordaMentha partners, Brendon Gibson and Grant Graham have been appointed Administrators.

 

Solid Energy Acting Chairman, Andy Coupe says that the company has faced very challenging conditions. In the face of dramatic declines in the price of hard coking coal, the company made significant gains in cost-reduction and operating efficiencies but the market has continued to fall and there was still no near-term prospect of any significant recovery. As a result, Mr Coupe says, it is no longer sustainable for the business to trade under its current capital structure.

 

“We have been upfront with our employees and other stakeholders about the challenges facing Solid Energy. For some months we have been consulting with our banks and shareholder to develop a suitable plan. As a result, the Board has structured a proposal for creditors that, if adopted, would result in operations continuing under a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA).”

 

“In the Board’s view, that is far preferable to an immediate liquidation. The voluntary administration process enables that proposal to be quickly finalised and voted on by all company creditors,” Mr Coupe said.

 

The full text of the Solid Energy Board’s proposal is available to view at www.solidenergy.co.nz and a plain English outline is appended to this news release.


The key terms of the proposal include:

  • Solid Energy will engage an investment bank and undertake an orderly, managed sale of its assets over the next two-and-a-half years.
  • The existing Board will continue to manage Solid Energy, and be monitored by and reporting to the Deed Administrators and a monitoring committee of certain creditors.
  • Solid Energy’s debt as at the date of the VA will be divided into categories and paid as indicated below:
    - Trade debt (day-to-day debts which the Companies incurred in the ordinary course of operations prior to the commencement of the VA) is paid promptly once the proposal has been adopted.
    - Accrued employee entitlements that were outstanding at the date of commencement of the VA (e.g. holiday pay) are paid as per normal.
    - Participant creditors’ debt is restructured into a two-and-a-half year facility. This gives Solid Energy time to carry out an orderly and managed sale of assets, without the pressure of having to make significant debt repayments. Participant creditors include, amongst others, Solid Energy’s banks and medium term noteholders.
  • All costs incurred in the normal course of ongoing trading are paid when they fall due and rank ahead of all other debt – this means trade creditors can continue to trade with the Companies with confidence of payment.
  • Existing Crown indemnities for site rehabilitation costs are restructured to provide certainty for affected local authorities and assist the asset sale process.
  • Participant creditors get what’s left at the end, after payment of all trade creditors and employees, as settlement of their debt. If the proceeds are less than the outstanding debt, the participant creditors release the shortfall.
  • If any assets cannot reasonably be sold they will be put into a safe and secure state, all employee entitlements will be fully met, and the asset will be closed.

“We believe the proposal has the necessary support from the shareholder and a majority of creditors to be successful. It allows for a managed sell down of the Companies’ assets and the prompt payment of all trade creditors’ debt. This is a far more favourable scenario for stakeholders than going into immediate liquidation and for that reason, the Board is confident the proposal will be well supported when creditors meet to vote on it,” Mr Coupe said.

 

Mr Coupe noted that should creditors accept the proposal, the companies would be handed back to the Directors to oversee the implementation of the sell down process, at the end of the VA period.

 

“The process has been extremely complex, both legally and commercially, and has taken considerable time to develop to this stage,” Mr Coupe said. “The Board has been conscious of the strain on employees and contractors that naturally occurs in times of uncertainty, and has sought to act as quickly as prudently possible.”

 

From today, the Administrators will take full control of the companies for a period of five weeks. They will continue to trade the businesses, and will liaise with the creditors on the options for the future of the companies.

 

KordaMentha partner and SENZ Administrator, Mr Gibson says voluntary administration is a short-term measure that effectively freezes the companies’ financial positions while creditors consider the future.


“As Administrator, my focus is on protecting the interests of creditors, including SENZ employees. We have received a proposal from the Directors that they believe has the necessary support. While logic suggests an orderly realisation process would be a preferred solution, some details are still being worked through with a limited number of large creditors. Once those details are finalised, as Administrators we will review that proposal and any others we may receive, and prepare an independent report for creditors.

 

“We are mindful that SENZ is a large business with over 1,500 creditors who will be entitled to vote on the proposal. We are committed to giving all creditors detailed information within the statutory timeframes, ensuring they can make a fully informed decision,” Mr Gibson said.


A first meeting of creditors will be held within eight (8) working days. Information regarding this meeting is being made available directly to all creditors.

 

A second meeting – known as the ‘watershed’ meeting – will be held within twenty five (25) working days. Prior to this meeting, creditors will receive the Administrators report on the Board’s proposal.


At the watershed meeting, creditors will consider the Board’s proposal and will be asked to vote to resolve one of three outcomes for each company in voluntary administration:

 
  • That the Company execute a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA), which would govern the future conduct of the Company, or
  • That the Company be placed into liquidation, or
  • That the Administration of the Company should end and control of the Company be returned to the Directors.

Mr Gibson stressed that employee entitlements and other costs incurred during the period of voluntary administration would be paid as per normal terms and conditions.

 

“It is important to note that during the voluntary administration period, it will be business as usual for SENZ and its associated companies. This will include a continued strong focus on health and safety, environmental, community, and commercial matters throughout our engagement,” Mr Gibson said.

 

SENZ and the Administrators will be making no further comment on the VA process until the result of the watershed meeting is known.
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Brendon Gibson via KordaMentha on (09) 307 7865 or at senz@kordamentha.com


Outline of the Solid Energy Board’s proposal

 

The key terms of the Solid Energy Board’s proposal to be presented to – and voted on by – creditors at the watershed meeting, include:

 
  • Solid Energy will engage an investment bank and undertake an orderly, managed sale of its assets over the next two-and-a-half years.
  • The existing Board will continue to manage Solid Energy, and be monitored by and reporting to the Deed Administrators and a monitoring committee of certain creditors.
  • Solid Energy’s debt as at the date of the VA will be divided into categories and paid as indicated below:
    - Trade debt (day-to-day debts which the Companies incurred in the ordinary course of operations prior to the commencement of the VA) is paid promptly once the proposal has been adopted.
    Accrued employee entitlements that were outstanding at the date of commencement of the VA (e.g. holiday pay) are paid as per normal.
    - Participant creditors’ debt is restructured into a two-and-a-half year facility. This gives Solid Energy time to carry out an orderly and managed sale of assets, without the pressure of having to make significant debt repayments. Participant creditors include, amongst others, Solid Energy’s banks and medium term noteholders.
  • All costs incurred in the normal course of ongoing trading are paid when they fall due and rank ahead of all other debt – this means trade creditors can continue to trade with the Companies with confidence of payment.
  • Existing Crown indemnities for site rehabilitation costs are restructured to provide certainty for affected local authorities and assist the asset sale process.
  • Participant creditors get what’s left at the end, after payment of all trade creditors and employees, as settlement of their debt. If the proceeds are less than the outstanding debt, the participant creditors release the shortfall.
  • If any assets cannot reasonably be sold they will be put into a safe and secure state, all employee entitlements will be fully met, and the asset will be closed.
  • The end result of the proposal, if adopted by creditors at the Watershed Meeting, is that:
    - All trade creditors will be paid in full, whether incurred before the VA or in future;
    - All employee entitlements, including redundancy (if any) will be paid in full, whether incurred before the VA or in future;
    - The assets of the Companies, including non-mining and mining assets, will be put up for sale over the next two-and-a-half years with the goal of continuing operations under a new owner and ongoing employment for as many employees as possible;
    - With the support of the Crown, local authorities will have certainty regarding mine rehabilitation costs in their areas;
    - If any assets cannot reasonably be sold they will be put into a safe and secure state, all employee entitlements will be fully met, and the asset will be closed.
    - The Banks and other financing creditors support the process such that, if the assets of the Companies are not enough to pay off the full amount owing to them, they will release the shortfall;
    - The Companies will be wound up on a solvent basis, once all assets have been disposed of or closed down.

This notice summarises the proposal in general terms. It does not cover every aspect of the proposal. The full text of the Solid Energy Board’s proposal is available to view at www.solidenergy.co.nz

 


 

 

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