Senteq suppliers staring at losses after sell-off

Senteq suppliers staring at losses after sell-off

Just days after Senteq was sold to ASX-listed telco National Telecoms Group (NTG), the company that formerly owned it has been placed into voluntary administration with "around $1 million" in debt to many distributors.

Accountancy firm SimsLockwood is handling the proceedings and has given a preliminary estimate that unsecured creditors can only expect a return of about 40 cents in the dollar from the proceeds of the administration.

Two secured creditors of the old company -- IBM and Compaq -- will be fully paid out from the proceeds of the sale. The old company, now in administration and owned mainly by Jonathon Fisk, has changed its name to ACN 003 035756 Pty Ltd.

Leearna Plank, a principal at SimsLockwood, confirmed "the business [Senteq Information Systems]" has new owners but "the old company that owned it is now in administration".

Plank said that after a "severe downturn in sales" the directors of Senteq "decided to sell the business as a going concern" with NTG being the winning bidder from "several" prospective buyers.

"The unfortunate thing from this sale is that the amount of money realised from the sale of the business is not enough to cover the unsecured creditors," Plank said.

According to Plank, there is one large unsecured creditor who is owed $200,000 but most are owed "around $10,000". The largest creditor is believed to be one of Australia's top three distributors.

"The directors have continued to trade right up to the sale and accounts payable appear to have been reasonably current," she said. "There are no alarmingly huge debts. The directors appear to have been careful to keep things reasonably current."

A copy of the initial letter to creditors from SimsLockwood has been obtained by ARN. It discloses that Anthony Sims and Scott Pascoe of SimsLockwood are handling proceedings of the administration of Senteq.

The letter states: "The directors have been advised that the business has been sold as a going concern to NTG Newco 1 Pty Ltd who are now trading as Senteq Information Systems."

According to the letter from SimsLockwood, the sale "took effect on Friday April 12, 2002" and warned that the administrators "are not liable for any debts incurred by NTG Newco 1 Pty Ltd".

SimsLockwood then advised that it has "commenced investigations into the financial position of the company" and the first creditors meeting would be held on Friday, April 26.

Creditors received the letter (which was sent on April 18) just three days after Senteq CEO Geoff Croshaw sent a letter -- a copy of which has also been obtained by ARN -- to all suppliers stating that the business was "operating under the ownership of NTG".

Plank said it would be business as usual for Senteq under the new owners and that all staff had retained their jobs and employee entitlements.

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