Ansett parties prepare to vote on airline's future
MELBOURNE, March 25 AAP|Published: Monday March 25, 6:34 PM
The federal government is undecided whether to support Ansett administrator Andersen in its bid to hold onto the Ansett contract at a vital creditors meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting is the conclusion of the airline's second creditors meeting which began on January 19 when creditors agreed to give would-be Ansett owners Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox an extra four weeks to clinch the sale.
The Melbourne businessmen pulled out of the deal three weeks later.
With hopes dashed of selling the airline as a going concern, administrators Mark Mentha and Mark Korda, from Andersen, have recommended creditors vote in favour of a deed of company arrangement, enabling them to keep the company in existence while they arrange an orderly sale of Ansett assets.
The arrangement will take up to two years and cost around $65 million.
The alternative is sacking the administration and liquidating Ansett with a new team of accountants and a fast sale.
A spokesman for the administrators today said creditors had already started "jockeying and jostling" for position to recoup as much as possible from the airline's remains.
"It's not uncommon in these situations for individuals to seek the best for themselves at the expense of others," he said.
"The main responsibility of the administrators is to get the best return for all."
A spokesman for Transport Minister John Anderson said representatives from Andersen and the government met today to discuss government concerns over the proposed draft deed of company arrangement.
He said the government, as a priority creditor for $315 million in loans to cover Ansett workers' entitlements, was concerned by the lack of flexibility in the document relating to the sale and operation of the airline's domestic terminal leases.
"We're looking for a response to our concerns before we decide which way to vote on Wednesday," he said.
The government has been named as a potential bidder for the lucrative Sydney terminal lease.
A buy-back of the lease would significantly enhance the value of the airport which is expected to be privatised later this year.
Administrators are said to have valued the Sydney lease at about $400 million.
Under the terms of the lease the terminal owners, including the federal government, have first option to buy back the lease at market value.
Canberra Airport, which last Friday lost a Federal Court bid to resume control of the Canberra terminal lease, is pushing for liquidation as is the Global Rewards Action Group, represented by Melbourne businessman Jon Caneva.
The group represents several hundred of Ansett's 2.7 million frequent flyers.
The ACTU has supported the administrators' proposal and will recommend the 15,000 employee creditors vote on favour of the deed of company arrangement.
By Jane Williams, industrial correspondent