Featherston's future unclear

The receiver's first report on failed Mosgiel diatomite manufacturing company Featherston Resources has been filed, but sheds little light on the company's immediate future.

Aside from receivership, shareholder groups on both sides of the Tasman have been attempting to go to court to have a $A4.8 million ($NZ5.2 million) bail-out offer by Plaman Group set aside. The offer has been formally accepted by creditors but leaves next to nothing available for the shareholders.

At the time of receivership, there were 217 shareholders in Featherston, holding a total 96.65 million shares, with about $15 million having been invested in the company over about 16 years.

It launched its $1 million Duke Rd diatomite plant in March 2011, to supply the fertiliser industry, but actual sales were only a fraction of the millions of dollars of forecast annual production.

Neither the Sydney-based law firm representing some shareholders nor the Auckland-based solicitors it has retained have returned calls on the issue of possible shareholder action.

Sydney-based Woodgate and Co, which was appointed the receiver and manager of Featherston in December, outlined the book value of some assets but withheld the receiver's estimated values.

Woodgate and Co said information had been ''omitted'' on the ''realisable value of certain assets'' as it was commercially sensitive and could prejudice future asset sales.

The first report, lodged this week, noted the receivers had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court of New South Wales to ''not encumber or dispose of any assets of the company [Featherston] or its subsidiaries'', with the undertaking extended to Monday.

Separately, the Auckland-based administrators of Featherstone, Rodgers Reidy, have estimated creditors could be owed up to $A4 million ($NZ4.23 million).

Woodgate and Co said it was ''too early to determine with any certainty whether [there] are likely to be any funds available for unsecured creditors''.

Earlier this week, joint administrator Rodgers Reidy advertised that Featherston creditors should come forward to lodge a formal claim for debts. Reidy noted the ''deed of company arrangement'' had been executed, which is the $A4.8 million bail-out offer by Plaman Group.

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