The Stakeholders Association endorses the Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Liquidation Committee’s view that the most sensible way forwards for the continued operations of the ski fields is a Creditor’s Compromise. See the creditor committee's statement here: Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Limited Liquidation Committee Statement
The Stakeholders Association's view is supported by information in the public domain, as well as information provided directly to us. This includes correspondence and Iwi letters directly to MBIE, DOC, and Cabinet Ministers.
NewsRoom: Iwi aghast at Cabinet decision
The pan-Iwi letters regarding the Ruapehu skifields we have seen clearly state that the sale and purchase of RAL assets as proposed so far by MBIE breaches the current Iwi partnership agreements and would be prejudicial to the Tongariro National Park Treaty Settlement, and they advise there are likely to be legal challenges if the asset sale was to proceed. The Stakeholders Association independent legal advice has also raised the similar concerns that Iwi have regarding the process. Based on these facts it seems highly unlikely operating concessions will be granted in the near future and that any asset sale would remain unable to satisfy the purchase conditions.
The delicate balance of concessions and operating context for the Ruapehu skifields is a key reason why the Stakeholders Association submitted a Deed of Company Arrangement to restore and restructure the company at the Watershed Meeting. It is important to note that MBIE and the proposed private buyers did not have operating concessions in place at the Watershed Meeting. We understand advice was given to MBIE and the relevant Ministers not to proceed with the proposed asset sale at the time, which was ignored.
We believe a Creditors Compromise should be led by PwC as the Liquidator and not MBIE or their insolvency company Calibre Partners, who have used the government loans to hijack the insolvency process.
A Creditors Compromise involves the various creditors such as MBIE, ANZ, DOC, trade creditors and life pass holders working together to find a balance of forgiveness and restructuring that works for the company to resume trading. In particular, MBIE and ANZ have already a forgive their debt in favour of private individuals as part of the attempted asset sales. See: King Country News: Corporate welfare in ski fields dispersal In addition, revenue from the current season, season pass sales for 2024, and a reactivation fee from existing life pass holders would help to recapitalise to the tune of an additional $7M, meaning the restored company would be solvent and stable.
As a stakeholder advocacy group we would envisage that a change of board, management, company governance and constitution, would also take place as part of a creditors compromise to ensure a more robust, streamlined and locally-focused operation.
To assist this, the new board should be made up of key stakeholders such as Iwi, local businesses, life pass holders and passionate people who are supportive of the community model. It is also important they have specific experience including ski industry, ropeway experience, finance, IT, marketing, and tourism skill sets etc. to ensure diversity of skills. Revitalised management and customer experience is essential with resources and facilities balanced across both Tūroa and Whakapapa so the whole Ruapehu region benefits.
A creditors comprise would provide immediate certainty as the concessions would not be broken as well as providing adequate time and respect for Iwi to conclude the Tongariro National Park Treaty Settlement, which may take several years.
In our opinion, based on stakeholder consultation, a creditors compromise is the fastest, easiest and most common-sense solution to ensure the future of skiing on Mt Ruapehu. We understand that the RAL Liquidation Committee has had advice from some of New Zealand's leading insolvency barristers as well as specialist professors of law that this is the most sensible solution.
We call on the new incoming Government and Ministers to quickly begin working with PwC, Iwi and stakeholders to stop the absolute shambles created so far by MBIE and bring certainty to this situation. See: NZ Herald: Government Ministers apologise to Iwi for flawed engagement
If a creditors compromise is not chosen and the government appoints a receiver to force through the asset sale, then as the Stakeholders Association have stated previously, Tūroa and Whakapapa are likely to end up in March 2024 with no concessions for the second time in twelve months, no season pass sales completed, and more Government money needed resulting in ongoing uncertainty and suffering for local businesses and community.
The creditors' compromise can and will avoid further delays and uncertainty!
Ruapehu Skifields Stakeholders Association
Ps. Dozens of volunteers from across the ski community have contributed time, effort and expertise throughout the process to support the preservation of the skifields. All donations are welcomed and will be used to continue working to support the skifields at this critical time in the process.