Amid the dreadful drumbeat of covid-19 job losses and business closures, a tiny ray of light for consumers of high-end organic dairy products: financially threatened Wellington boutique cheese, yoghurt and ice cream maker Zany Zeus has been rescued.
The popular Lower Hutt-based company shocked its fans by announcing it was going into receivership in early December after running into financial difficulty while building a new factory.
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But today, a group of private investors and founder shareholders announced they had reconstituted the enterprise as Zany Zeus 2020 Ltd, buying it back from receivers PwC on April 3.
Among its rescuers is Bruce Wattie - grandson of James Wattie, the founder of the Wattie's food empire - who is now a director and its largest shareholder.
Bruce and Kathryn Wattie are listed on the Companies Office website as being one of 12 shareholders in the reconstituted company, holding a 29 per cent stake.
Also on the register is a company controlled by Neil Paviour-Smith, the managing director of broking firm Forsyth Barr, with a 2.8 per cent stake.
Terry Hills, a former director who owned 12.8 per cent of the old company, has increased his shareholding in the new company to 18.4 per cent through Black Cat Trustee Ltd. Representatives of the original company's founding family, Ana and Peter Matsis, emerge with just 3.5 per cent of the new company, although Ana Matsis is a director.
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Peter Matsis was listed as 74.4 per cent shareholder in the original Zany Zeus Ltd. Michael and Meropi Matsis, Zany Zeus's founders, will continue to be employed by the new company.
"Loyal customers expressed huge disappointment when they heard Zany Zeus faced closing before Christmas and showed overwhelming support for the company, the brand and its products," said newly appointed director Andrew McDouall, a former Wellington stock broker, who is not recorded as a shareholder.
"Zany Zeus continued to trade strongly over summer, despite being in receivership and we are thrilled to be able to keep this iconic Wellington business alive," McDouall said in a statement.