Receivers: Commander telco sale is imminent

Receivers: Commander telco sale is imminent

Former Commander employees accuse receivers, McGrathNicol, of incompetence and claim they are still waiting for their full entitlements

Receivers for Commander are hoping to secure a sale of the failed ICT integrator’s telco assets within weeks. The news comes on the back of claims by former Commander employees that they have not received their full entitlements.

Co-receiver, Peter Anderson of McGrathNicol, said it was negotiating with several potential buyers and hoped to have the sale finalised in the next couple of weeks. Anderson, Chris Honey and Joseph Hayes, were appointed receiver to Commander on August 7

“We are still working hard to sell the Commander telecommunications business,” he stated in an email to ARN. “We are dealing with multiple parties in that regard…we are endeavouring to finalise a deal within the next couple of weeks.”

McGrathNicol’s first attempt to offload Commander’s telco assets, to the newly formed Commander Telecom Group, fell through on January 27. According to ARN sources, the consortium and Commander’s key suppliers failed to reach a commercially agreeable arrangement.

In the meantime, the Business Spectator reported several former Commander employees were still waiting for their entitlements and had accused McGrathNicol staff of incompetence and failing to adequately communicate on the sales process.

One ex-Commander staffer speaking to ARN said she had been paid a lump sum amounting to half her entitlements, but hadn’t received any communication from the receivers on what this covered.

She said McGrathNicol had only provided “vague” information about the business, sale process and employees since her team was made redundant late last year.

Anderson told ARN many retrenched Commander employees had received their entitlements, but admitted some had not yet been paid due to legal issues.

“Under Australian law, employees receive priority for their entitlements out of floating charge assets. As is standard practice in insolvencies, those entitlements are paid from the funds obtained when the relevant assets are realised – in this instance for many employees this is clearly linked to the sale of the telecommunications business,” he said.

“In accordance with the law, we are also required to deal with each individual in the context of the specific legal entity they are employed by – this means that different circumstances exist for Commander Group employees depending upon the entity/business they were employed by and worked for which is why some employees have received their entitlements and some have not.”

Anderson claimed McGrathNicol had provided written communication to all staff since its appointment, and set-up a hotline number to contact Commander’s human resources department. It also established a separate contact at McGrathNicol should they have further queries, “so all staff have the ability to have their questions addressed”, he said.

However, the ARN source claimed she had received no official communication and added one of her colleagues from the same business division was still waiting for entitlements to be paid.

The Commander business is being sold in two parts: The managed and professional services business; and its telecommunications division supported by its national franchise network.

ASX-listed integrator, CSG, acquired the bulk of Commander’s managed services business in late October.

McGrathNicol also wound down Commander’s PC assembly business, Ipex, in November after failing to attract a suitable buyer.

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