West Coast Brewery director Paddy Sweeney says he is trying to rescue his Westport brewery following yesterday's High Court decision to wind up its parent company.

The High Court at Christchurch ordered that West Coast Brewing be liquidated to pay debts of about $234,000 to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) and $100,000 to trade creditors.

Justice Gendall dismissed West Coast Brewing's request for a six-week adjournment.

Mr Sweeney told The News today that it would be business as usual, with the liquidator running the company, while he considered four options.


Yesterday he told The Press, the Greymouth Star and his own staff he intended to buy back the West Coast Brewery from the liquidators.

He seemed to have stepped back from that position today.

He told The News the options were: Walk away; raise capital to pay off all creditors and the brewery remains a West Coast Brewing subsidiary; form a private company, to which he and other shareholders would contribute, to buy the brewery; the brewery is sold to someone else.

His preferred option would be whichever one best served shareholders.

Options two and three would mean all creditors would be paid and the three brewery staff would keep their jobs. However, he might have to stump up about $500,000 himself, selling other assets to do so, if no one else put in money.

"At this stage it's my firm intention to explore the keeping of the brewery, in the meantime keeping it open and trading ... The option of walking away is not on the table at this point. Emotionally I would far prefer to keep it and give the shareholders every opportunity to become involved in the rescue."

He had assured the three staff they still had jobs.

Mr Sweeney said yesterday's court decision had come from left field.

"We were expecting an adjournment. Bottom line, this is where I stuffed up. I offered to pay $54,000 as full and final - the debt was $234,000 with all the interest and penalties ... "My position was that if they don't accept the $54,000, then I will guarantee to pay them the $234,000, even if I probably have to sell something to do so.

"I'm thinking I have got that ace up my sleeve, but the next thing the judge says, 'liquidator appointed'."

When The News first reported the liquidation attempt in March, Mr Sweeney blamed a mixup over his company's Christchurch address following the Canterbury earthquakes.

He said the IRD's tax demands had gone to the wrong place.

Mr Sweeney told The News today he had spoken to the liquidator immediately after yesterday's High Court ruling, and said he would assist financially in keeping the brewery going while the options were considered. Normally, the liquidator would have shut the doors and organised a fire sale, Mr Sweeney said.

"At this point he is prepared for us to do what we have to do to keep it moving forward positively."

Both he and the liquidator wanted a quick resolution, but no deadline had been set.

The brewery was not an attractive prospect for buyers, who would find it cheaper to set up a brewery with more modern equipment closer to markets, he said.

Mr Sweeney said his "heart and soul" were in the brewery.

"I'm not about to let it go easily, but I have also got to be a little bit pragmatic here and I have also got 371 shareholders, many of whom are close friends and family, and I'm not about to let them down."

Five shareholders had already indicated they were prepared to put more money into the company.