Pike River payment uncertain

The receivers of Pike River Coal say unsecured creditors owed more than $31 million - including $15 million to tradesmen and almost $3 million to employees - are "unlikely" to be paid.

The company was placed in voluntary receivership by its board in December, just weeks after 29 men died in an explosion at its underground mine near Greymouth on November 19.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' first report on the receivership outlines a total debt owed to creditors of $110.4 million.

"Unsolicited expressions of interest from various parties" had been received for buying Pike's assets.

Receiver John Fisk said when contacted yesterday insurance negotiations were expected to continue "for several months yet".

He did not rule out the possibility of an insurance claim up to $100 million, which could then be used to pay secured creditors $74.9 million, leaving possibly $25.1 million which could go to unsecured creditors.

"That is still some way off and we are yet to determine the extent of the claim," he said.

In his report, Mr Fisk said the outcome of the receivership, at this time, was uncertain.

"Given this uncertainty, our current best assessment is that it is unlikely that any funds will be available to meet the claims of unsecured creditors [owed a total $31.9 million]," he said.

At the time of receivership, Pike had $10.9 million in cash. Its primary assets have since been assessed as the mine site, equipment and coal, the insurance claim, bonds lodged with Doc and local authorities.

The receivers made no estimate of the value of Pike's shares, which were suspended on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges.

"There are obviously a number of matters that need to be resolved around the future of the company, its assets and operations before any consideration can be made as to a resumption of stock exchange trading in the shares," the report said.



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