A late bid from an Australian-registered energy company to buy the failed state-owned enterprise Solid Energy has been rejected.
Creditors have instead voted for a staged sell-off of Solid, but politicians are warning its assets shouldn't be sold to any old company.
Solid Energy is in debt to the tune of $400 million, but still has prized assets like Stockton Mine near Westport.
Out of the blue last week a low-profile company called Mach Energy swooped in and told Solid's administrators they were interested in buying the company.
They also wanted a crucial creditors meeting delayed so they could put together their offer.
"They've clearly been involved in coal assets around the world...not that we didn't take them seriously but it's just the timing and the uncertain nature of their proposal," says Solid Energy administrator Brendon Gibson.
Little is known about Mach Energy, although it's believed to be backed by Asian investors and is registered in New South Wales.
But their timing was off, because creditors wanted to get on with today's meeting and decided on a staged sell-off of Solid rather than a more hurried liquidation.
That means they could get back up to 40 cents in the dollar, rather than 15, and Solid says it'll get on with the asset sales as soon as possible.
"We're planning on a two-and-a -half year programme but that's at the outer limit. There are assets that can and will be sold earlier," says Solid Energy chief executive Dan Clifford.
Mr Clifford says there could be further job cuts as assets are made more attractive for buyers.
But the Green Party say Solid needs to be careful who they sell to.
"The world is full of terrible coal companies with very bad environmental, social, and community track records so the Government has to be very careful about whoever steps up to buy it," says the party's energy spokesman Gareth Hughes.
A sales plan is expected to be announced soon.