Gunns bidders 'confidential'

THE names of buyers interested in the assets of failed timber company Gunns Ltd - including the permits and site for its controversial Bell Bay pulp mill project - won't be revealed by receiver- manager KordaMentha.

KordaMentha spokesman Michael Smith said potential buyers had until the close of business yesterday to lodge their bids.

"We'll wait until Tuesday before we confirm how many we've got, but we're certainly expecting seven bids," Mr Smith said.

"We won't be able to name the bidders, we'll still be in a confidential process, (but) by the time the sale is made it's more likely the buyer will announce it rather than us."

The assets, which also include almost 100,000 hectares of hardwood and softwood plantations, went on sale in November last year.

Gunns went into receivership in September 2012 with secured debts of $560 million and net assets of just $24 million.

KordaMentha will today start assessing the offers - said to be from the Asia Pacific region, Europe and the Americas - and select a preferred bidder to continue negotiations.

It is understood not all the bidders are interested in the pulp mill project but just want the forestry assets.

The due diligence process for a successful bidder could take several months.

At the time of its demise Gunns was one of Australia's largest forestry management companies, with about 300,000 hectares of softwood and hardwood forestry assets in Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and WA.

When it was appointed as receiver-manager, KordaMentha blamed the failure of Gunns on the global economic downturn, which had reduced demand and prices for export woodchips, and the collapse of the forestry managed investment scheme industry.

The outgoing state Labor government of Lara Giddings recalled Parliament in February to pass legislation to validate the pulp mill permits obtained by Gunns.

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