Possible sale for NZ honey exporter

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Specialist manuka honey exporter New Zealand Honey Specialties - trading as the New Zealand Honey Company - owes more than $1.4 million to unsecured creditors, shareholders and staff.

However, negotiations started this week for a potential sale, receivers said.

Established in 2005, the Dunedin-based firm was placed in voluntary receivership by its shareholders in mid-December and Dunedin receiver Insolvency Management has posted its first report.

Other than stock sold in the domestic market, no assets had been disposed of, Insolvency Management receiver Iain Nellies said when contacted yesterday.

He said negotiations with a domestic buyer might be concluded this week.

The first report said assets, including domestic and United Kingdom stock, were estimated at $511,615, while overall debt at November 21 was more than $1.3 million.

Unsecured creditors were owed $809,658, shareholder advances were $590,189 and employee entitlements were $24,054.

Mr Nellies said despite the potential sale, he could not estimate the possible shortfall.

The UK was the New Zealand Honey Company's biggest market but it also exported to Hong Kong, Singapore, China and South Korea.

The company's website says it has 20 beekeepers maintaining more than 20,000 tiered hives.

New Zealand Honey Specialties' majority shareholder is Alpine Honey Specialties, with a 48.97% stake, followed by Southern Capital Ltd, with a 45.19% stake, plus seven minority shareholders holding 1% or less.

Its directors are Duncan McKinlay, of Auckland, Chris Swann, of Dunedin, and company chairman Peter Ward, of Wanaka.

Southern Capital, previously HQPM Ltd, which put $552,000 into New Zealand Honey Specialties in 2014, is linked to the Dunedin McKinlay business family.

Its other directors are Mr Swann and Trevor Scott (Wanaka).

Last year's honey season was counted as one of the worst in about 30 years in the Dunedin area and there have been recent concerns about the dry conditions in Central Otago and Strath Taieri.

In 2005, the company topped national business growth awards. At the time it was New Zealand's single largest producer of specialty honeys.


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