Players warned of Aprin doubts

Players warned of Aprin doubts

GUNNS Ltd chief Greg L'Estrange says that signatories to the state forest talks knew last week that the Triabunna woodchip mill might not be sold to Tasmanian logging company Aprin.

Mr L'Estrange was on his way back to Tasmania yesterday from overseas talks to try to lock in joint venture partners for the forest company's proposed Bell Bay pulp mill.

He said that it had been disappointing to hear about the reaction to the news on Wednesday that Gunns was instead finalising the sale of the Triabunna mill to conservation-minded entrepreneurs Jan Cameron and Graeme Wood.

"We made a point of reaching out to the other players in the forest principles talks and alerted them to our issues and asked them about it," Mr L'Estrange said.

"We did that last week.

"They understood our position - I'm talking about Timber Communities of Australia, the unions and FIAT (Forest Industry Association of Tasmania)."

Aprin co-owner Ron O'Connor said on Wednesday he had been stunned to hear of the sale on radio.

Aprin and the company organising its bid for the mill have both said they were kept in the dark about the Cameron-Wood deal for the mill.

Yesterday Mr L'Estrange conceded that Ms Cameron had spoken publicly of her offer to buy the mill "a little bit earlier," than he expected.

Mr L'Estrange defended the company's right to accept a counter offer of $10 million from Ms Cameron and Mr Wood for the Triabunna mill.

The successful offer was $6 million less than what Aprin had been trying to raise for the purchase.

"We spoke to Ron O'Connor and said that we needed to understand if his company was capable of completing the deal last Friday," Mr L'Estrange said.

"We were unable to get a satisfactory answer.

"June 29 was the settlement date and he hadn't finalised the sale and couldn't finalise the sale and Jan Cameron had come along with an offer a little bit earlier."

Mr L'Estrange said that it didn't matter whether the difference between the two offers was $6 million or $600 million if one party was not capable of settling.

As a condition of the Cameron-Woods deal, Gunns had insisted that the woodchip mill would operate as an export facility subject to the conditions of the statement of forest principles.