Australia’s crisis-ridden steel maker Arrium has been placed under voluntary administration. The move sparked some concerns over the future of its 8000 workers. The Federal government reacted with an appeal from the industry minister asking the creditors to provide more time to the steel maker to sort out its problems.
Arrium, burdened with $2.8 billion in debts and a loss-making Whyalla unit, has been finding the going tough in the global market with the high costs of everything rendering its operations unviable.
The high debt has crippled Arrium and buyers are hovering around it to leverage from a distress sale. Many buyers are waiting for a reprieve from the high drama which saw the lenders rejecting a bailout package mooted by Soros Capital, an American hedge fund.
The company went into a trading halt on Monday morning and suspended the trading on Wednesday. Federal Industry Minister Christopher Pyne called up the lenders to give more time to the steel giant to come out of its difficulties.
Industry Minister Christopher Pyne wanted lenders to be more lenient by giving more time to the steel giant.
“The surest way for the banks to receive their money back from Arrium, the $2.8 billion that they owe their creditors, is for Arrium to trade out of its difficulties,” Pyne told reporters in Sydney.
Despite the difficulties, he said, it is possible that the three main Arrium businesses could break even or be profitable “in the right circumstances.”
“Out of these ashes of Arrium could be a Phoenix which will rise and provide the jobs and growth in the economy that we all want to see for the workers,” the minister said as reported by the 9 News reported.
Pyne also said neither the company nor the administrator ever asked the government for any bailout assistance.
“They have asked us to help them not be injured by unfair foreign competition and we’ve done that.”
The Sydney Morning Herald noted that the embattled Arrium board decided to appoint Grant Thornton as the voluntary administrator. The action has further angered the lenders which include Australia’s big four, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, and Westpac.
The banks wanted Arrium to appoint their own hand-picked administrators, McGrath Nicol, to enable a bigger role for them to dictate the company’s future roadmap.
However, there was a sense of reassurance in the words of Grant Thornton’s managing partner Paul Billingham, who said the voluntary administration, “will provide Arrium and stakeholders time to develop options to preserve long-term value and optimise the position of its creditors.”