Inside Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel mess – by Trevor Sykes (Australian Financial Review – May 5, 2016)

Since Queensland Nickel went into liquidation on April 21 everyone has been worrying about the workers who’ve been retrenched from the Yabulu nickel refinery at Townsville.

Well, from a reading of the report by FTI Consulting on Queensland Nickel, the workers were lucky to keep their jobs as long as they did. Because if Yabulu were owned by Pierpont, he would have closed it 18 months ago.

FTI reckoned Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd (let’s call it QN) has been insolvent since November 27, 2015 when it was unable to pay a debt of $11.9 million to the Aurizon transport group. Aurizon issued QN with a notice of default on that day.

The debt was due under Aurizon’s contract. QN continued to try to negotiate terms for deferred payment of arrears and to obtain short-term funding from Aurizon and was still trying, unsuccessfully, to do a deal up until January 2016, when FTI were called in as administrators. So the Aurizon debt has never been paid.

Pierpont’s offhand opinion is that FTI are right. QN couldn’t pay a debt as it fell due in November 2014 and was therefore insolvent. Of course, Clive Palmer will probably fight tooth and nail through the law courts on every possible point that can be argued and Pierpont’s offhand opinions will doubtless be dwarfed by the learned arguments of overpaid barristers.

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