Claimed assets of companies at time of collapse


January 12, 2019

This list tracks the claimed balance sheet values of companies at the time they collapsed and names the auditor who was involved.

Babcock & Brown, $2.63 billion: collapsed in March 2009 but its last audited accounts were released in August 2008 and showed a $150 million half year profit, with the signing audit partner from Ernst & Young being Mark O'Sullivan.

ABC Learning, $2.23 billion: claimed this figure in February 2008, but clearly this was more than $3 billion off the mark given the subsequent collapse. The CFO was charged by ASIC and received a 2 year suspended sentence, the auditor was banned for 5 years but the chairman of the audit committee, David Ryan, sailed on no problems and remains on the Lend Lease board to this day. Pitcher Partners was the audit firm for most of its public company tenure although Brian Long from Ernst & Young came in with a more realistic approach shortly before the collapse.

Pasminco, $1.5 billion: declared a $23 million net profit for 1999-00 and then collapsed shortly after courtesy of crashing commodity prices. Alan Beckett from Ernst & Young signed the accounts and then kept auditing the reborn Zinifex for the next few years.

MFS/Octaviar, $1.223 billion: plunged to a belated $242 million loss for the half to December 31, 2007 after writing down the MFS Pacific Finance division by $246 million. Never reported after that and the final accounts were signed by KPMG partner MM Craig.

HIH Insurance, $953 million: placed into liquidation on March 15, 2001 and the 1999-00 annual report claimed net assets of $953 million. John Buttle from the now-defunct Arthur Andersen was signing audit partner.

One-tel, $945 million: collapsed in 2001 and after never declaring a profit or taking a serious write-down. Stephen La Greca from BDO Nelson Parkhill signed the last set of accounts as auditor.

Brisconnections, $945 million: declared a $142.6 million loss in 2011-12 and then collapsed in early 2013 after traffic forecasts fell massively short. The audit signing partner was Scott Guse from KPMG.

Sons of Gwalia, $728 million: somehow reported a $12.23 million profit for the 6 months to December 2003 when this balance sheet claimed net assets of $728 million. Was in administration just a few months later. The auditor was VW Tidy from Ernst & Young's Perth office.

Great Southern Plantations, $706.4 million: final result was a $63.8 million loss for the year to September 30, 2008 but it collapsed in 2009 with a grossly optimistic balance sheet. The auditor was RA Kirby from Ernst & Young.

Timbercorp, $595.6 million: final full year result was a $44.6 million profit in the year to September 30, 2008. The auditor was Sandra Pelusi from Deloitte and it collapsed in April 2009.

Allco Finance Group, $545 million: reported a $1.73 billion full-year loss for 2007-08 but this still left it with net assets of $545 million when the administrators were called, something auditor Chris Wittingham from KPMG signed off.

RCR Tomlinson, $380 million: final full year result was a loss of $16 million but the company raised $100 million in fresh equity after declaring it was worth $380 million and before it went broke in late 2018 so you could argue that claimed assets at the time of collapse were really $480 million. The auditor was AG Collinson from Deloitte.

Quintis, $375 million: the Perth-based sandalwood company reported a $416 million full year loss in 2016-17, but this still left it claiming to have net assets worth $317 million at the time when administrators were called in on January 22, 2018.

Rubicon Europe, $298 million: whilst a big loss slashed its claimed net assets from $537 million to $298.2 million in the 2007-08 balance sheet, the property investor was suspended in November 2008 and then collapsed. The auditor was Victor Clarke from PwC.

ION, $297 million: the car part company collapsed in late 2004, but the 2003-04 results claimed a net profit of $29.7 million and $297.1 million in net assets. DA Watson from Deloittes signed the accounts as "true and fair" on September 17 and administrators were called in on December 7, 2004.

Windimurra Vanadium, $196 million: receivers were appointed in February 2009 with claimed net assets of $196 million in the 2007-08 annual report. The auditor was KPMG's Brett Fullarton.

Ten Network Holdings, $152.5 million: declared a $231 million loss for the half year to March 30, 2017, and then administrators were appointed on June 15, 2017. The auditor was Scott Walsh from PwC.

Centaur Mining & Exploration, $110 million: collapsed in May 2001 with $650 million in debts and the last annual report claimed it had net assets of $110 million. PKF's Michael Phillips was the audit signing partner.

Nylex, $88.3 million: the creation of former BTR CEO Alan Jackson which launched as Austrim and then rebranded and embarked on a long death dive to finally call in the administrators in February 2009. The full year accounts for 2007-08 released in August 2008 claimed to have net assets of $88.3 million. The auditor was Michael Bray from KPMG.

Copperco, $79.5 million: the Perth-based mining company claimed to be worth $79.5 million in its final balance sheet before it collapsed in November 2008. The auditor came from Ernst & Young's Perth office.

Bill Express, $66.45 million: collapsed in mid-2008 but the last accounts in February of that year claimed to have net assets of $66.45 million. The auditor was BW Szentirmay from KPMG.

Monarch Gold, $58.45 million: Michael Kiernan's mining outfit collapsed in 2008 when it was claiming to have $58.45 million in net assets. The auditor was Peter Buchholz from PwC's Perth office.

Allco HIT, $54 million: huge write-downs, the biggest in the Strategic Finance business due to enormous bad debts in New Zealand, sent the 2007-08 result plunging to a net loss of $322.2 million. This left total equity of $54 million and the receiver was called in on November 13. Chris Wittingham from KPMG was the auditor.

Eisa, $39.4 million: Damian Brady's house of cards collapsed shortly after the dot-com bubble burst but the 1999 annual report claimed net assets of $39.4 million with Roger Amos from KPMG the signing auditor.

Gunns, $24.2 million: A $904 million loss in 2011-12, led by a $750 million forestry write-down, reduced net assets to just $24.2 million, and administrators were called in a few weeks later.

Commander Communications, $20.68 million: after the new CEO took an axe to the balance sheet in February 2008, the net assets were only at $20.68 million by the time it collapsed six months later. The final auditor was RD Dring from PwC.

Companies that collapsed and already reported negative equity

Rubicon America Trust, -$142.7 million: declared a huge $587 million loss in February 2009 shortly before it collapsed with negative equity.

Becton, -$15.3 million: collapsed in early 2013 and final annual accounts for the 2011-12 year showed negative equity of $15.3 million

City Pacific, -$9 million: collapsed in 2009 and reported a final loss of $74.3 million which left it with negative equity. The auditor was PG Steer from KPMG on the Gold Coast.