Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Vineyard sale riles investor

Shareholders lost substantial amounts and place was financially disastrous, he says

The insolvency firm says Cable Bay's unsecured creditors are unlikely to be paid. Photo / APN
The insolvency firm says Cable Bay's unsecured creditors are unlikely to be paid. Photo / APN

Waiheke Island's stylish Cable Bay Vineyards was on its knees financially before it was sold last month, trading unprofitably and owing a bank $7.1 million, shareholder documents show.

After a report last week saying the business was sold for an undisclosed sum and shareholders had "enjoyed the journey", one out-of-pocket investor presented documents showing a different picture.

Shareholders lost substantial amounts and while it might be a great wedding venue, the place was financially disastrous, he said.

The business was sold to founder Neill Culley and building boss Loukas Petrou of Canam Construction.

Announcing that deal, Cable Bay director David Irving said: "We have enjoyed the journey as first shareholders of Cable Bay and are delighted for Neill and Loukas. We look forward to visiting and dining at Cable Bay and watching its success grow."

But the investor predicted unsecured creditors would get not a cent out of Cable Bay Vineyards, now in voluntary liquidation and under the control of Waterstone Insolvency.

David See of Waterstone said he thought it was highly unlikely unsecured creditors would be paid but he could not say if the business was running at a loss because he was waiting for the financial statements.

The angry investor's comments were backed up by a letter from Roger Hatrick-Smith of accountants VCFO who wrote to shareholders, explaining how the business had done poorly in a difficult trading environment.

"We will shortly have ... the best offer for the assets of the company that can be achieved in the current marketplace and will make that available for shareholder review."

Unless any offers exceeded the debt owing to the bank - about $7.1 million - and net creditors of the company, "then regretfully there would not be a return to shareholders", Hatrick-Smith said.

Irving said he did not issue the release quoting him about enjoying the journey, but he stood by it.

"These businesses are investments and you do your utmost," he said.

Asked how much money was lost, Irving said he would not "start debating that stuff".

Culley also refused to discuss losses.

"Our view as the new owners of Cable Bay is that we have a great future," he said.

"We are well-funded with no debt and have exciting plans."

- NZ Herald

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