Pulp mill buyers given time

POTENTIAL buyers of the pulp mill assets of failed timber company Gunns have been given more time to submit expressions of interest to receiver KordaMentha.

It was understood the original closing date was December 31 but some interested parties needed more time.

KordaMentha spokesman Mike Smith said the date was never completely locked in.

``We are not expecting fresh potential buyers, the existing ones asked for a bit more time to do more work,'' Mr Smith said.

``We had no objection to that.''

Still at the ``poker game'' stage, all expressions of interest will be analysed by the receiver before the end of the month, and it is likely the process will go to a second full due diligence stage with some buyers narrowed down. 

If one potential buyer is outstanding, negotiations could start immediately, and the process would be short.

``If somebody is prepared to put a lot of cash on the table and under conditions that are all acceptable for the receivers they may be a million miles in front of the rest of the pack,'' he said.

``If a number are in the ball park we may go to a second round. It really depends what we end up with in this first phase,'' Mr Smith said.

The original proposal by Gunns was estimated to be worth $2.5thbillion. 

The receiver will analyse the expressions of interest in the next few weeks and will then brief both the government and opposition.

Mr Smith said it was a complicated set of assets and that some interested buyers may want all or only some.

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