Liquidation experts speak out on Maclean deal

Two liquidators talk about Maclean Technology's purchase of Maclean Computing's assets

The liquidation of Maclean Computing after almost 20 years of operation, along with the announcement that CEO Chris Maclean has purchased the assets of struggling company from liquidators within days of its liquidation has left some in the tech industry perplexed.

Maclean Computing went into liquidation at 5:30pm Friday 13 July. The following Monday staff at Maclean were told to wait for an “official” announcement, and on Tuesday Computerworld reported the liquidation. By Wednesday July 18 it was announced that Chris Maclean had purchased Maclean’s assets (but not its liabilities) under the name of Maclean Technology, a company registered last year.

The asset sale process took five days, including a weekend.

Maclean's liquidators Waterstone Insolvency, which is run by Damien Grant, says the bidding process was fair and competitive in order to give the highest possible return to creditors.

As Computerworld readers have pointed out, Grant is also a business and finance commentator for the New Zealand Herald. Last year he told the National Business Review that he was charged with 10 counts of fraud [article behind paywall] in 1994, and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Computerworld has asked two liquidation experts for their opinion on the Maclean case, and whether the amount of time passed would have been sufficient. Simon Dalton is a partner at Gerry Rea Partners, and a chartered accountant. Mike Lamacraft is an insolvency practioner at Meltzer Mason Heath.

What is the average time a liquidator takes to sell a company?

Lamacraft says there is no standard amount of time for the liquidation process. It depends on the type of business and the pressures being put on the liquidator, he adds.

Before a sale can occur, Lamacraft says liquidators need to meet with creditors, investigate the owner’s activities, and the company’s financial records - which he says takes considerable administrative time.

Is five days (including a weekend) enough for a fair and competitive bidding process?

"Normally it's not that fast," says Dalton.

"Which suggests to me he [the liquidator] has been approached and offered money he couldn't say no to," he says. "The owner could have come forward after finding financing, or something similar.

"As a liquidator this is what you want to achieve."

Lamacraft suggests that following the news of Maclean’s liquidation, and moves by competitors to pick up its customers, pressure might have been put on Waterstone to sell before the company lost value.

Read the rest of this article on Computerworld.

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