28 May 2012

NZ firms may be sold as Hastie collapses

4:00 pm on 28 May 2012

The receiver for engineering company Hastie says its New Zealand businesses are still operating, but may be sold off after the Australian parent was placed into administration.

Hastie Group says and its 44 subsidiaries in Australia have appointed voluntary administrators due to its mounting financial woes.

Hastie is Australia's biggest provider of airconditioning and refrigeration in hospitals, while in New Zealand its clients and projects include universities, hotels and commercial buildings.

Administrator PPB Advisory said 2700 Australian jobs were on hold after the collapse of the company, which employs more than 7000 people worldwide - 4000 in Australia and 3000 overseas, the ABC reports.

However, it was hopeful that many of those affected would be able to stay in work once details of the company's collapse were worked out.

Receiver McGrath Nicoll partner Andrew Greenfell says the New Zealand holding company is in receivership, but the three operating companies are solvent and not affected.

He says the New Zealand subsidiaries may be included in the sales process, but at this point they are operating as normal.

The ABC reports that the collapse of the company has been caused by a $A20 million accounting irregularity.

The broadcaster says the big four banks are believed to be exposed to about $A250 million of the company's debt, which they could ultimately be forced to write down.

In December last year, the company recorded a half-year loss of $A150 million.