Gunns, Forestry lock horns over $25m debt claim

GUNNS and Forestry Tasmania have gone public in their battle over a disputed $25 million debt.

Forestry Tasmania chief Bob Gordon said yesterday that the government business was trying to recover debts of at least $25 million from Gunns.

But Gunns retaliated late yesterday by notifying the Australian Securities Exchange it disputed Mr Gordon's claim, made on ABC radio earlier in the day.

Gunns told the ASX that it considered Mr Gordon's claim of the company's indebtedness misleading.

"The claim comprises two areas of dispute - claims under contractual take or pay provisions and claims by Gunns against supplies made by Forestry Tasmania under specific arrangements in the 2010 financial year," said Gunns.

Forestry Tasmania had made claims under take or pay provisions of supply contracts for the 2010 and 2011 financial years, Gunns said.

But Gunns disputed these claims.

That means that any payment in relation to the claims under the relevant contracts would not be paid until the dispute resolution process was completed, the company told the ASX.

Gunns said that it had assessed the claims and believed that any liability to Forestry Tasmania would be minimal.

Mr Gordon said last night that he stood by his earlier comments that Forestry Tasmania would pursue all avenues possible to recoup the money.

He confirmed that the figure in question was at least $25 million.

Gunns said that it had notified Forestry Tasmania that it reserved its right to make further claims in relation to the contracts in dispute.

Gunns is still waiting for a decision by Premier Lara Giddings on whether the government will offer it a payout as part of the intergovernmental forest agreement.

Ms Giddings said at the time of the signing of the agreement nearly a fortnight ago that she expected a decision to be made about a Gunns payout last week.

But she has still made no announcement.

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