Engineering firm on verge of collapse: 2000 jobs at risk
28/05/2012 - It will be business as usual at Hastie Group's Australian businesses while receivers try to save the troubled company.
The electrical and refrigeration company appointed voluntary administrators on Monday as a result of its mounting financial woes.
The company had been in talks with banks and new investors to extend its loans last week, but they broke down when Hastie discovered an employee had been falsifying accounts.
Hastie and its 44 Australian subsidiary companies appointed PPB Advisory as voluntary administrators on Monday, and McGrathNicol as receivers and managers.
Control of the companies now rests with McGrathNicol, and it said it intends to continue to trade on a business as usual basis.
"I would like to assure customers and employees that our appointment allows the Spectrum, Services, Gordon Brothers and Austral businesses to continue to operate with minimal disruption while we run an orderly sale campaign for each business," McGrathNicol partner Peter Anderson said in a statement.
"We do not expect to make any significant structural changes to the businesses or their workforces."
Hastie employs about 7,000 workers across its operations in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Middle East.
Hastie provides services to the construction industry including electrical, plumbing and refrigeration.
Its Australian businesses - Spectrum Fire and Safety, Hastie Services, Gordon Brothers Industries and Austral Refrigeration - employ an estimated 2,000 people.
The businesses are located in all states except Tasmania.
A sale process for Austral began before administrators were called in, and a deal is expected to be completed quickly, McGrathNicol said.
PPB Advisory will control Hastie's overseas businesses.
The UK and Ireland operations are profitable and continue to trade as normal, McGrathNicol said.
Hastie announced earlier in May that its first half earnings would be reduced to zero, following two write-downs in November and a $150 million loss for the six months to December 31.
The accounting irregularities, which date back to the 2008/2009 financial year, are expected to add a $20 million charge to its profit for the current financial year.
The employee who admitted to altering figures had been suspended, and a second employee involved was expected to be disciplined.
The issue has been referred to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
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