Business as usual at Mt Romance

By Chris Thomson | posted on February 1, 2018

RECEIVERS for the embattled company that runs Albany’s Mt Romance sandalwood factory have assured workers their services are still required.

A spokesman for receivers McGrath-Nicol told The Weekender his firm wanted the Quintis Group, including Mt Romance in Albany, to keep trading while options including recapitalisation or sale were explored.

“Retaining a strong base of existing employees is an important part of continuing operations on a business-as-usual footing,” he said.

“As such, it is premature to be talking about payment of entitlements.”

The spokesman said that, in any insolvency situation, worker entitlements were always guaranteed by the federal government.

On January 24, Richard Tucker of Quintis administrator KordaMentha advised employees they had “a statutory priority of payment in respect of outstanding entitlements such as wages, superannuation, holiday pay and long service leave”.

The McGrathNicol spokesman confirmed Mt Romance workers were entitled to attend the first meeting of Quintis creditors to be held today at the Duxton Hotel in Perth.

Staff and creditors have been told they can participate via teleconference.

A second meeting, where creditors will vote on Quintis’ future, will be held at a later date.

Suppliers to the sandalwood factory are now receiving letters from Jason Preston of McGrathNicol explaining his company has assumed control of Quintis’ affairs and possession of its assets.

“We are continuing to trade the Quintis Group while we undertake an urgent assessment to determine the best course of action to preserve its business,” Mr Preston has advised.

“The receivers and managers would appreciate you making goods and services available to the Quintis Group on your usual trading terms when requested by me or my authorised representatives.

“All supplies made against signed purchase orders dated 23 January 2018 and beyond will be paid on normal terms.”

To get paid, suppliers must close their existing account with Quintis and open a new one in the name of the receivers.

Payment will only be made on debts incurred after January 23, when McGrathNicol was appointed, and not before on debt owed by Quintis.

Mr Preston added that suppliers with orders made before January 23 would need to contact KordaMentha “as a matter of urgency” to determine whether the order was still required.

Quintis recently told its sandalwood growers that investors had taken up to $20 million of additional bonds, which would be sufficient for the company to keep operating as usual while sale or recapitalisation was being assessed.

The company’s liquidity issues had seen it mired in a self-imposed trading halt since May.

The 60,000sqm Mt Romance plant is the world’s largest distiller of sandalwood oil.