Ansett's future still up in the air

Old Feb 8, 02, 7:51 am
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Ansett's future still up in the air

Ansett's future still up in the air
Saturday 9 February 2002

Tesna is expected to reveal several key appointments to the new Ansett this weekend, a move that may bolster the morale of nervous workers and restore some confidence that the consortium led by Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew wants to wrap up its bid for the failed airline.

Tesna is also tipped to unveil its much-delayed plans for members of Ansett's Global Reward frequent flyer program next week, although that announcement has been deferred several times already and it would shock no one if it were held over again.

Ansett's administrators, Mark Mentha and Mark Korda, of accounting firm Andersen, yesterday insisted negotiations to finalise the sale deal with Tesna were on track.

Mr Korda said the administrators and their officers kept in touch every day with the Federal Government, particularly the office of Transport Minister John Anderson. But Mr Korda dismissed suggestions by Opposition Leader Simon Crean that the government should intervene in the talks, saying he would "leave all that to the politicians".

Mr Mentha spent some time addressing a meeting of Ansett's maintenance workers in Melbourne, confirming that several bidders wanted to buy the line-maintenance unit, and at least two serious bidders were appraising the jet-engine shop business.

As well, talks with Sydney Airport Corporation Ltd, which owns Australia's busiest airport hub, have moved quickly, and a preliminary agreement on assigning Tesna the lease over Ansett's terminal was due this morning. Other airports expect to wrap up lease negotiations over the next 10 days.

In the main game, negotiations continue between Tesna and the administrators about what will go into the deal and what will stay out.

Meanwhile, in the Federal Court yesterday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission insisted that it did not oppose the administrators' decision to let Ansett trade while they settled the Tesna deal even though Ansett was suffering hefty losses.

Michael Sifris, QC, for ASIC, said that the regulatory authority instead opposed the request that the court give a direction sanctioning that decision.

Mr Sifris this week argued that the decision to trade is a commercial one, and so should not be considered by the courts.

He has argued that the existing legislation gives the administrators power to make such decisions.

The administrators have asked for the court's sanction as they fear disgruntled creditors could sue them if returns are diminished or the sale falls over.

[This message has been edited by RichardMEL (edited 02-08-2002).]
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