Leitch now in liquidation
AFTER two months, five days and at an incalculable financial cost to the community, the three Leitch Pastoral Group meat entities have gone into formal liquidation.
At a meeting in Brisbane yesterday afternoon creditors voted to accept the recommendation of voluntary administrators Grant Thornton.
The decision brings to a close the saga, which began on February 8 when Leitch Pastoral stood down 130 employees at the Killarney Abattoir, Condamine River Meats and Pittsworth Food Processors.
But the move into liquidation does little to ease the financial turmoil facing more than 200 creditors owed inexcess of $7 million.
Last night Grant Thornton administrator Michael McCann explained comprehensive investigations into the three entities had resulted in the liquidation recommendation.
The move effectively confirms creditors’ fears that they have little chance of ever recovering money.
Yet the upside for the 130 employees, who under the Corporations Act are considered priority creditors, is they will now be paid their entitlements.
Australian Meat Industry Employees Union industrial officer Chris Newman said employees would be paid using funds recovered by the administrators Grant Thornton.
“Any difference in the amounts owed to employees will be paid from the Federal Government’s general employees and redundancy scheme,” Mr Newman said.
“In my experience employees are generally paid out within two to three months, but that does hinge on several factors.”
Speaking yesterday Leitch Pastoral Group boss Dudley Leitch said he was still reeling from the personal and financial impact of the collapse of his three meat entities.
“I am the largest creditor, so obviously this has come at a huge personal cost,” Mr Leitch said.
“But I am from working-class background and I am used to tough situations, so I will get through this.”
Mr Leitch confirmed there had been “healthy” international and domestic buyer interest in the Killarney Abattoir and Pittsworth Food Processing plants.
Both meatworks were listed for sale by tender earlier this month.
“We had spent $5 million on improving the Pittsworth plant, so I see no reason why it won’t be sold and reopened again,” Mr Leitch said.
“We have also spent some money on the Killarney rendering plant and boning room.
“So I believe operators more experienced in the meat industry will see past the current situation and appreciate both plants could operate as viable entities.”
Mr Leitch also confirmed a farming property his group owned in the Killarney area had also been listed for sale.
“We are not selling our rural assets; any we have listed as very peripheral ones that are either too isolated or required too much management.”