Forest contractors fear ruin

FOREST contractors caught up in the collapse of Gunns fear they now face financial ruin because of legal action launched by the failed timber company’s liquidator.

Gunns went into voluntary administration in 2012 after reportedly posting an almost $1billion loss in the previous financial year.

The Australian Forestry Contractors Association said the fallen timber giant’s liquidator, PPB Advisory, was  taking legal action to recoup tens of millions of dollars for creditors.

Association chairman Ian Reid said harvesting and haulage contractors in Tasmania and interstate could soon be dealt a bankrupting blow.

‘‘This is a real kick in the guts and could be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of forest contractors across Australia,’’ he said.

Mr Reid said a number of contractors subject to the legal action had already lost millions of dollars in unpaid invoices when Gunns collapsed.

‘‘As a result, these contractors have already taken a large financial hit as unsecured trade creditors and now are potentially taking another hit,’’ he said.

A PPB Advisory spokesman said the liquidator was required to investigate the Gunns collapse, and confirmed it may need to take legal action. ‘‘The liquidator is committed to working with all affected parties in a constructive manner, and it is recommended they make contact with the liquidator as soon as possible,’’ the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, receivers for the failed timber company are no longer putting a timeline on the process to sell the permits and land for the Tamar Valley pulp mill.

KordaMentha has received an unknown number of bids for the Bell Bay site and pulp mill permits, and had expected the 

sale process to be completed by mid-July.

However, a spokesman for the receiver said on Monday no decision had been taken on the sale of either the permits or the land.

‘‘They’re still working on some fine details for a number of people on what is a complicated asset,’’ he said.

‘‘Once the preferred bidder is selected, it won’t take very long at all to get to signed contracts.’’

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