Gunns directors face scrutiny
Gunns' liquidator will widen an investigation into the Tasmanian timber company's collapse to decide whether former directors should be pursued.
Creditors voted on Tuesday to liquidate the company and appointed administrator PPB Advisory as liquidator.
The administrator's report, released last week, raised concerns about how the company was trading before its collapse in September last year, suggesting Gunns could have been insolvent six months earlier.
"The liquidator can look to recover transactions against management for knowingly trading the company while insolvent," PPB's Daniel Bryant said.
Former directors of Gunns have previously denied the company traded while insolvent.
Mr Bryant said a report would be filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission within three months, addressing the issues of concern.
"What we would need to do as liquidators was establish a sound commercial case to recover for the benefit of the stakeholders," he said. "We'd only do that in terms of an avenue for recovery if we were of the view that we could get a material benefit for creditors."
Mr Bryant reiterated receivers KordaMentha's view that unsecured creditors were unlikely to see any of the hundreds of millions of dollars they are owed.
Gunns has debts of about $3 billion, including $446 million owed to secured lenders who are also unlikely to be paid in full. Workers' entitlements of $10 million, however, would be met, he said.
Creditors leaving the 2½-hour meeting held across the road from Gunns' derelict former head office in Launceston expressed dismay.
"You set up your life so that you have a reasonable retirement and something like this happens and then you're in limbo," timber grower Pauline Chitty said.
More than 300 farmers who grew timber for Gunns are caught up in the collapse.
"The repercussions probably will be what happens to the trees, the land, the future of the plantations in the state, which are right round the farming community," farmer David Gatenby said.
Growing trees to supply the $2 billion pulp mill Gunns proposed is one possibility, with KordaMentha looking to sell the permit for the project, which faces an ongoing legal challenge.
Opponents of the mill have warned Gunns' major secured creditor, ANZ, against pursuing the project.
"If ANZ takes any steps that support the construction of a pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, the alliance will campaign vigorously against ANZ at a higher level than has occurred in the past," No Pulp Mill Alliance's Lucy Landon-Lane said.