Erratic prices led to Interfert's collapse

Erratic fertiliser prices led to the collapse of Interfert, which is in voluntary administration with a $25 million debt

By Ruza Zivkusic | May 19, 2011

The global financial crisis (GFC) did not push Interfert’s collapse into administration but high fertiliser prices did, Chris Powell from KordaMentha says.

The company, which was one of Australia’s largest fertilising importers and distributors, fell into the administrator’s hands as fertiliser prices crashed.

It was also unable to secure new funding arrangements with a lender, falling into a debt of $25 million.

"The pricing (of fertiliser) did increase substantially and it did crash very quickly; that caught this company and a number of other companies significantly," Powell says.

"It dropped in a matter of weeks from $1200 to $1300 a tonne to $400. I don’t think you could blame the collapse on the GFC."

The Adelaide-based company has 15 staff. The first creditors meeting was held on May 17.

"A lot of customers are keen to see the business continue on because of the product it has. It is seen as a useful competitor to the major fertiliser suppliers and from a creditors’ perspective creditors are particularly interested to see what’s happening given the level of debt involved."

The company’s annual turnover was $100 million in the 2009-2010 financial year.

"Our current priority is to investigate restructuring and refinancing of the businesses and to work on maintaining supplies and services to existing customers across the group’s extensive rural network," Powell says.

"The board decided to place the trading entities of the group in voluntary administration after it became apparent that an overseas provider of executed banking arrangements was unable to meet its commitment to Interfert.

"Those funding arrangements, which failed to materialise, had included the fertiliser business establishing new banking facilities late in 2010.

"Funds were to be advanced in January in time for the 2011 fertiliser season."

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