Home World Business SCF Group parent placed into receivership by UK backer

SCF Group parent placed into receivership by UK backer

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One of Australia’s largest container companies, SCF Group, will be restructured after its main backer appointed receivers to the parent companies.

British investment giant Intermediate Capital Group appointed receivers from McGrath Nicol to Popeye Holdco and Popeye Bidco, the entities that own SCF Group.

SCF Group is one of Australia's largest shipping container companies. SCF Group is one of Australia’s largest shipping container companies. Photo: SeongJoon Cho

ICG bought into SCF in 2012 after picking up the stake owned by private equity group Archer Capital.

The operating entity SCF Group itself has not been placed into receivership.

No jobs are expected to be lost at its Adelaide headquarters or other sites but SCF Group chief executive Richard Sykes and chief financial officer Nick Woodward have been stood down from their board and management duties.

The group employs more than 100 people directly and uses the services of other companies that in turn employ hundreds of people.

The decision to appoint receivers came after SCF lost its bid to stop ICG calling in a $173 million mezzanine loan in the Federal Court this week.

SCF’s long-term chief operating officer, Justin Speedy, will take the helm of the company to steer it through the restructure, while Andrew Wharton has been appointed interim chief financial officer.

Mr Speedy said the restructuring would not affect the operations of SCF Group.

“It is business as usual for the team here and we are focused on the future,” he said.

“I am confident that the capital restructure we’re undertaking will be implemented seamlessly and with no disruptions to our day to day business. 

“We’re excited about the future opportunities for SCF given our strong business operations and partnerships.”

Mr Sykes, a shareholder in the group, is expected to be wiped out as an equity holder following the restructure. He did not return emails ahead of the receivers being appointed on Thursday.

SCF had asked the court for an injunction against ICG exercising its rights under the contract to seek the immediate repayment of the loan.

The action came after another SCF Group-related entity failed to deliver the financial statements for Holdco for the year ending June 30, 2016.

For the year ending June 30, 2015, Holdco had an equity deficiency of  $9,812,458. SCF Holdings does not have a deficiency.

The handing over of accounts was a key condition of ICG providing the loan and as a result ICG wrote to SCF Group seeking an explanation.

A spokesman for SCF confirmed the appointment of receivers in a statement to Fairfax Media.

ICG said the management changes at SCF companies were necessary to “restore them to a positive footing”.

 “It has become clear that the lenders needed to step in to protect their interests and ensure the continuation of the SCF Group as a going concern,” the company said.

 “ICG and its co-investors remain committed to an outcome that will result in a stable corporate structure, conducive to future growth and which provides certainty for all stakeholders in the SCF companies, including their employees, customers and suppliers.”

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