Hi-Fert collapse won't affect supplies

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Elders and Landmark - the two joint venture shareholders in the now-worthless fertiliser importer and manufacturer, Hi-Fert - say farmers won't be left short changed by the business' financial collapse. The two big farm supply networks intend to keep sourcing Hi-Fert fertiliser and remain solid customers of the company as its future ownership options, including a possible break up, are considered by receivers.

Hi-Fert was put into administration last week after its bankers declined an offer from Landmark's new parent company, Canadian fertiliser giant, Agrium, to take over the independently operated business, its 102 staff and its (undisclosed) debt.

Elders chief executive officer, Malcolm Jackman, believed Hi-Fert's administrators would achieve a "fairly speedy outcome" for the company, given other newly established competitors in the local market may be keen to buy part or all Hi-Fert's eastern States assets and market ties. Landmark managing director, Richard Norton said his farm supplies network would be working with all its various fertiliser suppliers, including Hi-Fert, to make sure farmers had the products they needed.

Hi-Fert administrators have allowed trucks to be loaded for dispatch to Landmark and Elders clients for immediate supply.

Landmark orders represent up to 25pc of Hi-Fert's business, while Elders clients have taken about 15 to 20pc in recent years. The bulk of the client base has been to independent resellers.

Mr Norton said although a significant portion of fertiliser needed for the 2011 grain cropping season had already been supplied to customers, large supplies were currently on hand, or in transit to Australia, as most product was ordered three months in advance.  "From our perspective it is business as usual at Landmark with fertiliser requirements," he said.

"There are numerous suppliers to the Australian market and we'll work with all suppliers to ensure our customers have the products they need."

However, he said it was disappointing the major player in Australian market had not been able to stay solvent and a competitive player may now be absorbed by other big fertiliser companies.

For more information, please go to:  http://fw.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/agribusiness-and-general/finance/hifert-collapse-wont-affect-supplies/2182135.aspx

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