By 3 News online staff
Solid Energy will undergo a progressive sell-down of its assets over the next two-and-a-half years rather than liquidate – a decision labelled "sensible" by the State-owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister.
The decision was made at a watershed meeting today and is the final step in the voluntary administration process which began on August 13.
The 1500 creditors voted to support the company's board to sell off assets in a "deed of company arrangement" over the next two-and-a-half years and the debt restructured.
Administrator Brendon Gibson says the decision, approved by the company's creditors, would mean day-to-day trade creditors and employees to be paid in full.
"Debt owed to other creditors, including the bank group and bondholders, will be restructured into a two-and-a-half year facility," he says.
Control will soon be returned to the board after a few minor procedural conditions are fulfilled.
Payments to trade creditors are expected to be made within seven working days and payroll for existing staff will continue uninterrupted.
Solid Energy acting chair Andy Coupe is happy with the decision, though while there are still challenges ahead, "we are pleased the path is now clear to move on with the process and get payments to creditors under way".
After the release of the administrator's report to creditors, a request was made by an offshore third party to adjourn the meeting for 90 days so they could decide whether they want to buy the assets.
Mr Gibson says such an approach in administration isn't unusual, but is uncommon for it to be made after the report is issued.
He said the approach didn't change the process and the meeting when ahead as planned.
SOE Minister Todd McClay says the decision is the best outcome for the company, staff and creditors.
The company's board will be responsible for selling down the assets.
"I expect that this will provide an opportunity for those assets that are economically viable to continue trading under new ownership – a far preferable option to liquidation."
The Green Party says any foreign companies looking to buy the company's assets should be vetted for commitment to workplace safety, local communities and the environment.
Energy spokesman Gareth Hughes says it is important the Government doesn't sell out to "global coal cowboys".
"The Government got Solid Energy into this mess by loading it up with debt, so it has a responsibility to its workers, their families and communities, to make sure livelihoods and the local environment are protected."
Mr Hughes says Australian company Mach Energy and Coal India are rumoured to have been interested in the company's assets and more needs to be known about them.