Buyers circle as Byron's cookies find new home
The Byron Bay Cookie Company is being put up for sale this week, and foreign buyers have already shown interest as receivers appointed by NAB try to recover millions owed to the bank.
The company's receivers, led by PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Derrick Vickers, have begun an expression-of-interest campaign and will be advertising this week.
"We are looking to find a buyer for the business and have already issued a number of information memorandums to parties who have signed confidentiality agreements," Mr Vickers said.
The receivers were appointed by NAB on March 15, just over a week after the company was forced into administration after the Australian Taxation Office tried to wind up the company over $1.7 million in unpaid taxes and superannuation payments. Lawler Partners' John Vouris, who leads the administration, said about 40 parties had registered their interest. This included queries from India.
He said that, based on the company's accounts, it was profitable at the time of administration. He hinted that money lent to related companies - including its retail arm - may have created problems for BBCC, which was responsible for making the product and selling it wholesale.
It is understood NAB took control of sales because it had a secured charge over the business as well as the land it rented from a company associated with BBCC's owner, orthopaedic surgeon Gordon Slater. Documents lodged with ASIC show Mr Slater has said he is owed $300,000. Related companies associated with Mr Slater are owed a further $2.8 million. This includes $146,000 owed to Fortune 5 Pty Ltd, a company that rented some of its property to BBCC.
NAB appointed receivers to Fortune 5 on March 21.
Mr Vouris said Mr Slater had until this week to propose a deed of company arrangement if he wanted to regain control of the company he acquired a decade ago.
A second creditors meeting is scheduled for April 22. Mr Vouris said a creditors report would soon be available and would include his investigation into the collapse of the business. Current and former employees are chasing unpaid superannuation.