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Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:22 pm

Creditors accept Ansett sale

From AAP

MILLIONAIRE businessmen Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew have won the approval of Ansett creditors to take over the collapsed airline.

However, today's vote does not guarantee the $514 million deal with the Fox/Lew company Tesna will go ahead.

Ansett was expected to be handed over to Tesna on Friday, but administrator Mark Korda of Andersen said the syndicate was unprepared to take over the airline at that time.

Mr Korda said while 250 lawyers, accountants and other professionals had been working on the deal, there were some issues - mostly to do with third parties - that had not been settled.

He said the delay meant there was a risk Tesna may not complete the deal, but said administrators still believed it would go ahead.

Mr Korda said the extension of time was necessary because although most commercial issues had been resolved in relation to the sale, it was very complex.

He said legal matters needed to be determined in relation to terminal leases, information technology licences, aircraft leases, and the sale also required the approval of the Federal Court.

Tesna has 30 extra days from the original January 31 deadline to complete the sale.

The risk would also include a trading loss of $2.5 million-a-week and an info-tech bill of $3.5 million-a-week.

Despite the delay, administrators still recommended creditors vote in favour of the Tesna proposal.

"It is a difficult decision but we have come too far," Mr Korda said.

"We need creditors to understand the risk. It will cost us some money to get there but it has cost us money to get here."

The sale was carried on a show of hands of 1,200 of the approximately 1,500 creditors after a two-hour meeting at Vodafone Arena in Melbourne.

The Tesna deal is worth $514 million including $244 million in entitlements and $270 million cash.

Four thousand of the 15,000 Ansett jobs lost in the September collapse will be saved.

The ACTU represented the largest group of creditors - the employees - while credit card company Diners Club held the proxy votes for frequent flyer club members.

The ACTU signed an in principle agreement with Fox/Lew securing $244 million in employee entitlements only this morning.

About three million creditors are owed $3.4 billion, including:

- $730 million in employee entitlements;

- $140 million in frequent flyer points (members say worth $1.4 billion);

- $167 million to banks.

Employees should receive a 100 per cent return while other creditors can expect a return of five cents in the dollar.

The meeting started at 3pm (AEDT) and ended straight after the vote at 5.10pm (AEDT).