Owner of troubled Sara Lee bidding for Whakapapa
Sara Lee’s owner says its administration won’t affect its bid to buy the North Island skifield, but the change of government might. Voluntary administrators have been called into a major investment of the financial backer of one of the preferred Ruapehu Alpine Lifts bidders, but it says it won’t affect its ability to bid. Whether it still wants to bid is another matter.
The South Island Office, behind Whakapapa Holdings’ bid to buy the Whakapapa ski field from its liquidators, purchased frozen dessert brand Sara Lee for about $95 million in 2021.
MBIE selected Whakapapa Holdings and Pure Tūroa as the preferred bidders for their namesake fields, eligible for significant government support through a partnership, in part for their financial stability and credibility of their business backgrounds.
Speaking to Newsroom, Elworthy said Sara Lee’s financial troubles didn’t impact at all on the South Island Office’s ability to bid for Whakapapa, “We’ve got a number of entities we’re involved with and different investor groups.
Asked if he was still interested in buying the field despite the prolonged, complicated and scrutinised Ruapehu sales process, Elworthy said it was hard to pick. “We’ve had a change of government, so no one is quite sure what that means.”
When Ruapehu Alpine Lifts was in voluntary administration, the Labour Government offered millions of dollars of support to both of its preferred bidders, Whakapapa Holdings and Pure Tūroa.
An email leaked to Newsroom detailed plans for the Crown to take a 25 percent shareholding in both companies, also providing working capital and further government loans to operate the beleaguered field and pay back unsecured creditors. That deal would have also seen MBIE regional development arm Kānoa commit to performing and funding scheduled maintenance until the deal was completed.
Government support for buyers hasn’t stopped. Labour ministers signed off on a $3.05m loan to Pure Tūroa to help it buy the ski field earlier this month.
Department of Conservation concessions and related iwi discussions are still up in the air.
supplied by Save Mt Ruapehu www.savemtruapehu.org.nz