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Administrators believe £1 million will never be repaid
CREDITORS owed money by Colchester business Bunting and Sons may never get it back.
A report by administrators Deloitte for the High Court of Justice states there is “no prospect” unsecured creditors will get their money back – a total of nearly £1million.
London-based financial experts Deloitte were called in by the banks to handle the affairs of Bunting and Sons in October.
The banks included RBS, from where the Buntings had taken out a £10million loan, plus had a £2.5million overdraft.
The landowners blamed the protracted planning bid for the controversial visitor centre at Horkesley Park for its demise.
Unaudited accounts for the year ending October 2011 showed the firm, one of the oldest in Colchester, had more than £14million in bank loans.
In the report at the court, Bunting and Sons estimates its assets – including Westwood Park and Horkesley Park – are now only worth about £5million.
The administrators’ report also states they do not expect the banks to be repaid in full. They are now trying to sell the assets as going concerns and expect this to be done within a year.
The report details how Bunting and Sons had tried to survive the financial crisis two years ago.
It says the firm recognised its position was unsustainable in December 2011, and prepared an action plan for RBS, including selling assets to repay the debt.
In February last year, the firm sold the Anchor Inn, in Nayland, followed by the Thrift Barns and farmland, in Horkesley, in August last year, and Thrift farmhouse in September last year.
Carter’s Vineyards, in Boxted, was sold in March.
But its plans for the Stour Valley Visitor Centre, at Horkesley Park, were rejected by Colchester Council after a heated debate.
The bank asked for proof from the Bunting whether it had secured investment from a third party, or reassurances someone would buy the Horkesley Park site by the end of May. However, no such commitment was secured. They appealed against the council’s decision and approached a third party to help finance the challenge. The bank asked for this funding to be provided by the end of September, but no agreement was reached.
The planning appeal started on October 1, but on October 7, the bank submitted an application for the firmto go into administration.
Partner Stephen Bunting said: “We are extremely saddened and deeply regret the position. We are continuing to work with the bank’s administrators to achieve the best possible outcome.”
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