New company rises from Maclean Computing liquidation

Chris Maclean teams up with businessman Matthew Bellingham for Maclean Technology Ltd, with customer-base and staff likely to remain intact

The customer-base and staff of Maclean Computing (MCL), which went into liquidation last Friday, is expected to remain intact with the formation of a new company.

Chris Maclean joined forces with businessman Matthew Bellingham to purchase the assets from MCL's liquidator. The new company, Maclean Technology Ltd, will most likely hire on MCL's employees, and will remain in the company's current location.

“Myself and a business partner have established a new company and that company will buy the new assets, other than the debtors – we did that through a competitive process run by the liquidator,” he says.

The liquidator, Damien Grant of Waterstone Insolvency, confirms a competitive process took place in five days, but wouldn’t say how many bids were in the running, or what was paid for the assets. When asked if the sale was in keeping with the ‘Phoenix Law’, or sections 386A-F of the Companies Act (which govern whether the assets of a company in liquation can be bought by affiliated parties), Grant told Computerworld: “I hope it would be, otherwise I’m going to prison.”

According to Maclean, the liquidation was the consequence of a theft by a former financial controller, a debt the company discovered in early 2010, but could not recoup, especially in light of the financial crisis.

"It is sad to see Maclean Computing disappear but we’re also very positive about being able to get out there and play our part in the industry without the concrete boots of debt slowing us down,” Maclean told Reseller News this afternoon. "Although it seems to have brought out the true colours in some of our competitors, we’ve been delighted in general with the response of the industry, staff and customers."

Grant says the total amount owing to between 30 and 40 Maclean Computing creditors “will be around the $1 million mark”.

Maclean says the liquidation of MCL will undoubtedly mean losses for some creditors.

"We are extremely sorry for this as they were all valued suppliers and the last thing we wanted to do was for them to miss out," he says in a statement. "We tried absolutely everything to sort this out including hundreds of thousands of dollars from the wider family. All that is now lost, and there is nothing good about that.

Maclean says competitors have been very active since the announcement of the liquidation earlier this week, including Code Blue.

Maclean Computing was founded by Allen Maclean in 1993 and his son Chris Maclean took charge in 2009. According to Chris Maclean the company struggled in the “post-recession environment” and the situation was made worse by an alleged theft of over $500,000 from the former financial controller. That case is currently before the courts.

“Allen is a bit of a legend in the industry and (I had) some big shoes to fill,” Chris Maclean says. “He and I work great together. What I can say is I’ve picked the business up in pretty poor shape having gone through those dramas and I’ve increased profits by hundred of thousands of dollars since that year on year.” 

Maclean Computing’s 50 staff were told about the liquidation on Monday night, and yesterday evening, when the asset sale had been approved, Chris and Allen Maclean took them out for drink to toast the new company.

So could Maclean Computing have been saved?

“Anyone who knows us would know that we did absolutely everything possible for the first company to survive,” says Chris Maclean.

“And that included Allen selling his house and his brothers and daughters putting in their life savings to get it through, but eventually we just couldn’t make it work and it wasn’t a choice we had. So from then on, rather than try to make the old company survive once it went into liquidation, at that point it was a case of ‘how do we preserve these staff jobs and a lot of customers rely on us for essential services. So to not make an effort with that regard would be pretty irresponsible.”

Chris Maclean says his business partner in Maclean Technology, Matthew Bellingham, is a director of Auckland accounting firm Hayes Knight.

“He has been my personal financial advisor for a while, helped me put together the bids for the business and during that process he agreed to come on as a partner because we couldn’t quite get there in terms of the money, so he’s put up his own equity to do that. Together we managed to get a competitive bid together.”

According to the Companies Office, Maclean Technology Ltd was registered in November 2011.

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