Penrice scrambles for debt solution

Adelaide firm has fallen into voluntary administration with debts of more than $100m.

The Adelaide company that 18 months ago became the first to face a board spill under the controversial 'two strikes' rule on executive pay has fallen into voluntary administration with debts of more than $100 million.

Penrice Soda Holdings appointed McGrathNichol as a voluntary administrator to allow the business to continue to trade and to achieve fresh financing to continue its turnaround strategy under chief executive Guy Roberts.

A fortnight ago the group secured a heads of agreement with a new lender for a debt restructure and refinancing planned for the end of this month. But following due diligence the agreement has been terminated and the new lender opted not to proceed with the proposal.

Penrice has been hit hard by the high Australian dollar, reducing receipts from its US-dollar export earnings and increasing import competition in its local markets.

Last year it closed of its Australian soda ash manufacturing in favour of an import-distribution joint venture.

The company’s two main lenders are NAB and Westpac.

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