AUSTRALIAN wool growers are unlikely to get their share of a $20 million-plus distribution of funds from the liquidated grower-owned entity Graziers’ Investment Company before Christmas.
The expected distribution of about $10 a share for the 2,093,586 issued shares held by 36,594 GIC shareholders — wool growers mostly in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria – is now expected to be made in early 2020.
GIC liquidator with Grant Thornton, Ahmed Bise, last week said the process of wrapping up the liquidation had required him to apply to the Supreme Court for the approval of costs.
“Both my lawyers and I had anticipated that this process would be completed and pave the way for the distribution to shareholders to be completed as soon as next week.
“I have been advised by the legal & projects officer of the Commercial Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria that the Judicial Registrar will certainly endeavour to finalise the matter as soon as practicable,” he said.
“However, I have also been advised that as a consequence of current demands upon the court that the matter is unlikely to be resolved before Christmas.
“It is a very disappointing outcome,” Mr Bise said.
“I stress that I am very much trying to bring matters to a conclusion as soon as practicable.”
Graziers’ Investment Company Limited was previously known as Australian Wool Services Limited, the successor to the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation, which once had The Woolmark Company Pty Ltd and Australian Wool Innovation Limited as subsidiaries. AWI was de-merged from AWS in 2002 and The Woolmark Company was sold to AWI in 2007.
Mr Bise said the distribution to shareholders will be completed in the New Year as soon as the orders sought are handed down. He said with unwinding a company of GIC’s size, and long and extensive history, there is a process that must be followed and importantly respected.
“That process can throw up challenges.”
Australian Wool Growers Association president Robert McBride said AWGA has worked hard over the last few years to finalise and pressure the closure of GIC as the funds were effectively in limbo.
“We were given an undertaking the funds would be distributed by the liquidators Grant Thorton before Christmas, but have recently been told it is still in the courts for sign-off.
“While we are disappointed the funds aren’t with shareholders now, we are doing our utmost to get Grant Thorton to move the case through the courts ASAP and get the funds back to wool growers where they belong.
“The board of AWGA quietly get a great deal done for our industry and the directors are proud to make positive outcomes to all wool growers in our industry, such as the finalising of GIC and the return of monies.”