Workers at Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks will “absolutely” be better off under new administrators KordaMentha, partner Mark Mentha says.
The struggling steel and mining group’s major lenders and the Australian Workers Union successfully applied in the federal court on Tuesday to have KordaMentha replace Grant Thornton.
Mr Mentha says the new administrators have access to funding lines that Grant Thornton does not.
“We have 23 Australian and international banks and 10 foreign bondholders who last week weren’t supporting the company to the extent they are supporting it this week,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“We’ve got fresh eyes. We haven’t been party to any of the negotiations taking place in the past between the company and its financiers and its creditors.
“This is a really good outcome for the people of Whyalla.”
But South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the move had created more uncertainty for the town’s 1600 steelworkers.
He said the government had been in advanced negotiations with Grant Thornton to ensure Arrium and its creditors could continue to trade.
Mr Koutsantonis and Premier Jay Weatherill will meet with the new administrators on Friday, as will Industry Minister Christopher Pyne.
Mr Pyne said he was confident KordaMentha would prioritise saving Whyalla and the rest of the company as well as getting the banks and other creditors as much of their money back as possible.
“I am sorry that the administration of Arrium has been thrown into tumult again within five days of the announcement by the company,” he told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.
“I think the people of Whyalla will find that the attitude of KordaMentha is as good, if not better, than Grant Thornton.”