HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 650: 23 January 2013

Potential buyer for Reef meets Minister

The Minister has been keeping updated on the latest events related to the liquidation of Reef Shipping (Reef).
Reef owns two international cargo vessels which were operated to and from the Cook Islands under shipping licences held by EXCIL Limited and Tai Moana Limited.
Established in Auckland in 1967, Reef’s shipping services grew to currently service islands including Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomons, Nauru, PNG, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu and Kiribati.
On 26th November 2012, Reef was placed into receivership by Price Waterhouse acting for creditors of Reef who stated it was “business as usual” for Reef’s customers and employees. This “status quo” will continue while Reef’s dire financial issues are resolved.
It is understood that the high cost of recent vessel acquisitions by Reef to service new routes could not be maintained, one leading reason being the currently stressed global economy.
On Friday 14th December 2012, the Minister Hon. Tom Marsters met in his Avarua office with representatives of one of the two shipping entities, which are serious potential purchasers, bidding to buy the assets of Reef.
(Due to commercial sensitivities, the Company’s name cannot be divulged until next week.)
The Minister was informed by the Company representatives on the status of the potential purchaser. The Company is a large Pacific vessel operator with an impeccable business and social reputation and it also possesses an existing, excellent asset base, of numerous large cargo vessels. Further official Due diligence will be undertaken by Transport officials should the Company be the successful purchaser of the Reef assets.
The Minister was assured that if the Company was successful then Cook Islands customers would not be negatively affected and that existing services would continue for the foreseeable future. Following direct enquiries by Minister Marsters, the Company gave assurances that the invaluable social, sporting and community support previously given by Reef, would be continued and maintained by the Company, if it became the new purchaser of Reef’s assets.
The Minister indicated that he welcomed this goodwill visit and that he was very pleased that such a substantial Pacific based shipping company might be successful in buying the assets of Reef. This would help maintain the provision of shipping services to and from the Cook Islands which were previously operated by Reef.
It is expected that the Receivers of Reef in New Zealand will announce the successful purchaser of the Reef assets (vessels) by Saturday 22 December 2012.
In the short term, the Minister wishes to assure the people of the Cook Islands that, at this festive period and beyond, there will not be any change to the Shipping and cargo services provided under the existing Shipping Licences already issued by the Minister of Transport.
Hon. Tom Marsters

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