Mill looks to future as Pakistan deal off the table for now
INTENDING to terminate a deal with Pakistani investors, the Isis Central Sugar Mill is currently crushing cane and looking to the future.
The proposed multimillion-dollar transaction with Almoiz Industries Limited and co-investors was set to have a significant impact on the mill but after extending the end date for the Scheme Implementation and Subscription Deed multiple times, the board is calling it quits.
ICSM chairman Peter Russo said they felt the matter wasn't going to be finalised in the near future so, in the interest of the shareholders, it was time to stop the deal.
He said there was a possibility the deal could be revived down the track; "six months, 12 months, who knows, when they get regulatory approval".
But they didn't want shareholders hanging on or give them false hope.
"We'll see where things go in the near future," he said.
A letter sent to shareholders last week stated that following the termination, ICSM would apply to the Supreme Court of Queensland for leave to discontinue its application for approval of the transaction.
Mr Russo said it was an emotive issue for some shareholders who, like the board, were upset about the decision.
"We brought this to the shareholders in good faith and thought that this would complete around Christmas last year - obviously it didn't and it's dragged on…," he said.
"I can appreciate that our growers and shareholders are upset, but I would like for that to pass and that we look forward.
"We do need to be positive and keep moving forward."
Mr Russo said the allegations raised against Almoiz in a Pakistan sugar inquiry didn't impact the decision.
The NewsMail previously reported that the Government of Pakistan's Inquiry Commission report contained allegations of misconduct.
In a previous shareholders letter from ICSM board chairman Peter Russo on the matter, he noted that the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association "has rejected the findings, conclusions and recommendation of the report", with intentions to "share a more detailed response about the contents of the report in due course".
In June there was a report by Pakistan news organisation Samaa TV, that mill owners challenge sugar inquiry report in Islamabad High Court.
The recent letter to shareholders further detailed that in the transaction booklet, the ICSM Board advised that if the transaction did not proceed it will likely be necessary for ICSM to explore options to "reduce its expenses and debt levels and provide working capital. This work is ongoing."
When speaking to the NewsMail Mr Russo said while it was business as usual, they were mindful of their balance sheet.
He said while it was too soon to discuss publicly how that work would be done, the board had some processes in mind.
"There are other things happening around our area at the moment that we are thinking about, who knows where that'll go," he said.
"But obviously everything's very fluid at the moment, we're looking at all options.
Mr Russo said they would have to look at cost cutting and issues like that, but assures they were "looking at things all the time".
The NewsMail attempted to contact Almoiz for comment.