Monthly Archives: July 2019

Administrators query on Retail Adventures’ solvency

Administrators appointed to Retail Adventures are investigating whether the failed discount retailer – which is being sold back to Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron this week – was insolvent more than a year before its collapse.
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A meeting of the company’s creditors committee was told last month that the administrators, led by Deloitte’s Vaughan Strawbridge, are investigating ”whether or not the company was insolvent” at the time charges over the company’s assets were granted to Ms Cameron in July 2011. The company went into administration in October 2012.

The administrators are also investigating two payments to ”related creditors” the month Retail Adventures collapsed, according to documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

”The administrators’ investigations continue, particularly in relation to recoveries that could be available in respect of preference payments that may have been made,” the report said. The administrators’ investigations would be critical in determining whether there is legal action worth pursuing – in liquidation – on behalf of 1700 creditors owed $270 million.

Ms Cameron is expected to offer a deed of company arrangement as an alternative to liquidation.

She bought the Retail Adventures business out of receivership for $80 million in 2009, and has secured loans totalling $77 million from funding she provided as the business lost $110 million in the three years she ran it. She is using part of her $77 million secured debt to acquire the business back from the administrators for $59 million. Unsecured creditors, owed $165 million, stand to receive nothing from the sale.

Another company owned by Ms Cameron, DSG has run the business on behalf of the administrators. It will now own and run the restructured operation.

Administrators have said there might be grounds to reduce Ms Cameron’s secured debt from $77 million to $27 million, in which case the balance of what DSG owes on the transaction would be paid in cash.

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Euro threat precipitates flight of capital from Cypriot banks

Capital flight from Cyprus has accelerated since eurozone politicians began threatening losses for bank depositors, and may have reached 12 per cent of the country’s GDP over the past month.
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Sources say lenders haemorrhaged €1 billion ($A1.3 billion) in deposits over the first two weeks of February, heightening fears that even talk of ”haircuts” is deepening the banking crisis as rescue talks drag on between the European Union and the International Monetary Fund and the island’s new leaders. The Bank of Cyprus reported deposit losses of €1.7 billion in January.

Brussels has warned against haircuts for depositors, a drastic move avoided in bailouts for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.

Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris told eurozone colleagues this week that such action would shatter confidence and set off a fresh round of the debt crisis.

”There is no way we can entertain the idea of any kind of haircut to any kind of deposits. This would be an accident in the eurozone not caused by markets, but a self-inflicted wound, a self-inflicted catastrophe, not only for Cyprus, but for the eurozone and perhaps even beyond.”

The crisis in Cyprus is now deepening on every front. The jobless rate hit 22 per cent in February. The country will run out of money to pay its bills in May. An internal report by Brussels says the bank rescue costs may push public debt to 145 per cent of GDP, implying that debt relief will be needed.

Since European leaders have vowed not to repeat the mistake made in Greece where they set off a broader crisis by imposing wipe-out losses on investors, this means that the burden may fall on taxpayers in Germany and the European Monetary Union core.

The Cypriot crisis has been neuralgic in Germany ever since a leaked report alleged that the island was a haven for Russian organised crime. Nicosia agreed this week to a money-laundering probe but it is unclear whether this will placate critics in the Bundestag. Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats said the business model of Cyprus was based on ”Russian oligarchs, Serb mafias, and tax evaders”.

Bankers say the attacks on Cyprus are deeply confused. Most of the Russian money is in Cypriot branches of Russian banks that are solid, or in large British banks.

”There is no chance that they will go after these banks because it would be illegal and amount to expropriating the Russian state,” one banker said.

The Cyprus Mail says the outgoing Communist government whipped up hysteria against the banks to divert blame from its own mismanagement.

Telegraph, London

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Victoria out to ice finals berth

After a season of squandered success in both the Twenty20 and one-day competitions, Victoria is desperate to all but guarantee a Sheffield Shield final berth with victory against arch rival NSW.
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The Bushrangers lead the shield ladder with two rounds remaining, although their recent record could make such a position a liability, given they lost the one-day Cup final they hosted, and their Big Bash League affiliates – the first-placed Victorian Renegades and third-placed Victorian Stars – were both eliminated in the semi-finals.

Victoria has the smoothest run to the shield final.

It boasts a four-point buffer and its last two opponents – NSW and Tasmania – occupy the bottom two rungs.

An outright win against the Blues in the match starting at the MCG on Thursday would mean the only way it could miss the final would be if South Australia and Queensland, ranked second and third respectively, each win their last two matches outright and the Bushrangers do not get any points against Tasmania.

Furthermore, the Bushrangers go into the match against NSW with the most formidable head-to-head home record in the shield over the past 20 years. NSW has only won once at the MCG in that period, in 1995-96.

But Victorian coach Greg Shipperd said he was wary of the “strong rivalry” between the teams. “The game is very important for us to take points out of it to secure a final position, which may give us some breathing space going into the back-end of the season,” he said.

“We certainly want to build on our outright win of last game [against Queensland]. We thought that was a really positive response after the two games against South Australia.”

The Bushrangers go into the match with a squad of 13, recalling all-rounder John Hastings after Australia A duty and preferring fit-again paceman Jayde Herrick to Scott Boland.

The Blues have been bolstered by the return of Ben Rohrer and Josh Hazlewood, also from Australia A duty, as replacements for Tim Cruickshank and Chris Tremain.

They will also feature a new captain, with the respected Rohrer leading in place of Steve O’Keefe, who cited a desire to focus on an international recall as the trigger for his resignation.

VICTORIA (from): White (c), Ahmed, Handscomb, Hastings, Herrick, Hill, D Hussey, Mckay, Quiney, Rogers, Rose, Sheridan, Stoinis.

NSW (from): Rohrer (c), Bollinger, Copeland, Dawson, Haddin, Hazlewood, Henry, Maddinson, Nevill, O’Keefe, Sandhu, Zampa.

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CRICKET: Clubs reveal NDCA vision

STOCKTON-Raymond Terrace and University have publicly issued their own draft plans on the future structure of Newcastle district cricket.
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Stockton’s proposal is to introduce all 40-over one-day cricket for third and fourth grade, while Uni have proposed a regional premier league that includes clubs from the Central Coast, Maitland and Hunter Valley.

The two clubs join Toronto Workers, which issued an alternative plan to the Newcastle District Cricket Association’s vision for an eight-team premier league last month.

Stockton believe the shorter format of the game appeals more to increasingly time-poor younger cricketers and will slow the exodus of players to City and Suburban cricket.

While Stockton have been supporters of the NDCA’s premier league in first grade, president Ron Hancock said attention first needed to be placed on the lower grades.

‘‘We believe the NDCA should start at the bottom and work upwards, not at the top and work down,’’ Hancock wrote. ‘‘The formation of a premier league will not be successful unless we get our house in order first, and in fact we might improve the existing 12-team structure and there may not be a need for an eight-team format.’’

Uni held a meeting of 30members and have proposed a more radical approach.

The club supports an eight-team premier league, but to maintain the strength of the underpinning first division Uni believe sides from Maitland, the Hunter Valley and Central Coast should be introduced.

Those sides would be eligible for promotion to the premier league.

The NDCA has sought interest from Maitland and Central Coast about joining the competition without success.

‘‘We don’t think the structure proposed by the NDCA is a workable solution, but that doesn’t mean we’re just going to say no to any sort of reform and not be constructive,’’ Uni president Ben Smee said.

‘‘The idea we have circulated is not the club’s formal position. It’s certainly not designed to be a grand solution to all our problems.

‘‘It’s an idea that came from our meeting that is designed to generate some discussion about how to improve cricket in the long term.’’

Meanwhile, a meeting organised by Western Suburbs lower-grader Ross Declerck on Monday night at Cardiff RSL Club was poorly attended.

Eight people from five clubs – Wests, Newcastle City, Waratah-Mayfield, Toronto Workers and Cardiff-Boolaroo – attended the meeting, which focused on keeping predominantly two-day cricket in all grades. Declerck hopes to meet with the NDCA.

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KNIGHTS: Gidley delighted with placement program 

DURING his countless hours as a Western Suburbs junior kicking a footy around Kentish Oval, Kurt Gidley often dreamed of playing ‘‘across the road’’ at Hunter Stadium.
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Now in his 13th NRL season, the Knights captain is planning on making regular trips back ‘‘across the road’’ to Harker Oval as the Rosellas’ club ambassador.

The Knights player placement program with the Newcastle Rugby League was launched yesterday at No.2 Sportsground.

While it will not be a return to the structure of 2009 when the Knights did not field a NSW Cup side and instead filtered their reserve-graders back into the local league, it is hoped the program will give the grassroots league a boost.

All of the Knights’ NRL squad have been made ambassadors of the nine local clubs.

Gidley, who first played rugby league in the Wests under6s, said he remained a proud Rosella today.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve ever lost touch where my junior club is, and what I got out of playing for Wests as a young junior coming through for the Knights,’’ Gidley said. ‘‘It’s just across the road and they’re a great club and have done a lot for me.’’

While the top Knights like Gidley and fellow Wests junior Jarrod Mullen will not spend time in the local league this season, a host of NSW Cup or National Youth League players could make appearances in the ‘‘Real NRL’’.

Gidley said it was important those players used it as a launching pad.

‘‘It’s up to the attitude of the guys going back and playing in the local comp,’’ he said.

‘‘They need to go back and train and play well to prove to coaches at the Knights that they want to be back at the Knights in first grade or NYC.’’

Most local club bosses were at yesterday’s launch and have been urged by Newcastle Rugby League general manager John Fahey to build relationships with their ambassadors to capitalise on the program.

Wests president Wayne Hore said he hoped to benefit from Gidley’s profile and rugby league ability in junior development.

‘‘Kurt is willing to come back and do clinics with our schoolboys and we’ve got a 17s and 18s, so they’re always welcome to come back and the kids look forward to seeing them,’’ Hore said.

The Rosellas won all three grades last year and will be expected to dominate again.

However, the strugglers like Port Stephens Sharks have recruited strongly and Lakes United have signed an astute coach in former Knights NSW Cup mentor Rip Taylor.

‘‘Some of the other clubs have built up, which is good,’’ Hore said. ‘‘I think the top five will be fairly close, but the others might struggle.’’

CLUB LINK: Kurt Gidley with Wests president Wayne Hore at yesterday’s launch. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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