Cashed-up Palmer’s ‘insulting’ offer to creditors
QUEENSLAND Nickel creditors say they've been "insulted" by Clive Palmer after he offered them just 10 cents on the dollar to buy back the refinery's enormous debts for a pittance, while publicly boasting of his wealth and spending millions on political advertising.
Dozens of the refinery's creditors have been approached by lawyers acting for Mr Palmer's company Closeridge, offering to purchase the debts and explaining acceptance will mean they lose their right to legally pursue the money further.
The Townsville-based refinery collapsed in January 2016 with more than $200 million in debts including $74 million owed to employees and more than $130 million owed to third party creditors.
It's unclear how many of the more than 130 business creditors were approached but Supreme Court documents reveal at least 32 accepted the offer including Metallica Minerals which received just $22,000 in exchange for a $220,000 debt and NTT Data Business Solutions which accepted $6237 for the $62,370 debt.
The legal letter to creditors describes the offer as "an act of good faith" and explains the QNI is "in the process of reopening the refinery".
Overall, Closeridge was able to purchase more than $440,00 of debt for only $44,000. It's understood those companies will now be removed from the claim in a mammoth legal battle over the refinery's collapse which is due to go to trial in July.
Townsville-based 24 Hour Hose business owner Richard Moule was owed $514.49 when the refinery collapsed and accepted $120 when offered 10 cents on the dollar, saying there was "no point" chasing the full amount.
"It's all a bit of a joke really," he said. "I've just written it off as a lost cause. I'm a small fish to fry compared to others."
Mr Moule said he didn't believe the refinery would ever reopen and that he wouldn't be a supplier for Clive Palmer if it ever did.
"Why would you want to supply him if reopens when the exact same thing could happen again," he said.
"He's not a very popular man up here (in Townsville)."
FCP Solutions owner Andrew Holmes accepted $258 for the $2583 debt owed to him, saying he was concerned he would be excluded from supplying the refinery if he did not say yes.
"We'd been doing business with them a long time and they were very good customers up until they shut up," Mr Holmes said.
Mr Palmer has spent millions on political advertising in recent months and has openly boasted of his wealth, telling the Federal Court he earns a million dollars a day and that $15,000 to him is like $1.50 to anyone else.
Mr Holmes said it was "insulting" creditors were offered so little in light of the billionaire's cash splash but said he would be eager to do work with the refinery if it reopened because "businesses is business" and the refinery was a "major part" of Townsville's economy.