Buyer found for NZ Honey Co

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Speacialist manuka honey exporter New Zealand Honey Specialties - trading as the New Zealand Honey Company - has been bought out of receivership, for an undisclosed sum.

Established in 2005, the Dunedin company was placed in voluntary receivership by its shareholders in mid-December. Its overall debt was assessed by liquidator Insolvency Management last November at more than $1.4million.

Liquidator Iain Nellies confirmed when contacted yesterday that New Zealand Honey Specialties was bought by New Zealand buyers and the company would continue to be operated as a going concern.

"We're still assisting though, with the business handover," Mr Nellies said.

Scott Brundell confirmed when contacted that he, Mark Lahood and Marc Eurell were in partnership and the new company would be trading as New Zealand Honey Co Ltd.

The trio had not purchased assets of the company, but its brand and intellectual property rights.

"Our initial focus is the New Zealand market," Mr Brundell said, citing supermarkets and the tourism industry sectors as potential customers.

Mr Nellies was unable to give a specific update on the debts, but said about $24,000 owed to employees had been settled. Three of the four staff had found work elsewhere and one remained with the company.

While unsecured creditors were owed about $809,000, more than half of that debt was owed to companies associated with the shareholders, which would get nothing. It was "unlikely" the other unsecured creditors would receive payments and shareholder advances of about $590,000 would not get payment.

Mr Nellies said the company had sold its Mosgiel factory in June last year and would now operate as a "broker", taking orders and selling domestically.

The United Kingdom had been the New Zealand Honey Co's biggest market. It had also exported to Hong Kong, Singapore, China and South Korea.

Before the receivership, New Zealand Honey Specialties' majority shareholder was Alpine Honey Specialties, (48.97%), followed by Southern Capital Ltd (45.19%) and seven minority shareholders holding 1% or less.

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