Bank sells Gunns debt

ANZ has quietly offloaded its share of Gunns' debt in a move that   critics say shows it was not confident about the prospects of a pulp mill sale.

The bank sold its reported $200 million share of the $446 million owed to secured creditors to an unidentified company in September.

The sale took place before receivers KordaMentha called for expressions of interest in remaining Gunns assets, including the stalled Tamar Valley pulp mill project.

ANZ confirmed the sale yesterday, saying it was ``no longer a part of the Gunns Ltd banking syndicate and not involved in providing financial support for the proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill''.

The bank had been the target of protests and boycott campaigns over its association with Gunns.

Bass Greens MHA Kim Booth said the sale showed that the bank had no confidence that a new proponent for the mill would be found.

``ANZ, when they sold out, revealed that they thought the chances of this pulp mill ever being built were zero, so they just cut and run,'' he said.

Mr Booth said he suspected the debt had been ``sold to corporate loan sharks, for a peppercorn'', and said KordaMentha should name its new lead creditor.

KordaMentha spokesman Mike Smith declined to name any creditors, but said the sale did not affect   the liquidation process and the receivers would continue to act in the best interests of secured creditors.

Financial analyst Tony Gray said the transfer made it even less likely that unsecured creditors would see any of the $750 million owed to them by Gunns.

Mr Gray said a specialist debt firm, which was the most likely buyer for the debt, would have bought in at a heavy discount and would  be interested in a quick profit.

Parliament yesterday passed legislation to extend the pulp mill permit to 2017, at the request of KordaMentha.

Six shortlisted bidders will make their final offers on March 31. 

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