Jaggers creditors file $15m claims

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THE tight liquidity prevailing in the economy and legal challenges have hampered the liquidation process for collapsed wholesaler, Jaggers, with a total of $15 million required to settle claims from 97 creditors. Court appointed liquidators Grant Thornton and Camelsa, need to raise the amount from disposal of assets to settle the claims, excluding former staff of the defunct wholesale giant.

The manager in charge of advisory Mr Alex Dera said the $15 million claim by creditors did not include an $800 000 claim lodged by 727 former workers, $300 000 of which has been paid.

“With the exclusion of employees, there are 97 creditors who have lodged their claims totalling about $15 million,” he said.

Mr Dera said they were preparing payments for a second interim dividend. He, however, would not say how much will be paid out.

He said about $2,1 million has been realised from the disposal of the collapsed wholesale giant’s assets during the protracted liquidation process that stretches back to 2011.

He stressed that the liquidation was a legal process, which had to follow due processes and navigate various legal challenges from stakeholders including the recovery of vehicles from executives and managers.

“For instance there is a dispute with respect to who owns the shelving in certain supermarkets in Bulawayo. The case is before the courts and until such a time the case is resolved, no disposal (of assets) can take place,” Mr Dera said.

Former executives and managers have also registered concerns of the disposal of assets in Bindura, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Gwanda, including Friendly Supermarket outlets.

Mr Dera said Friendly Supermarkets was run under franchise and most were not owned by Jaggers. He said shops owned by Jaggers will be sold together with other assets.

“The liquidity challenges on the market have an adverse impact on the rate of disposal especially on land and buildings. We do not believe in selling assets for little or no value simply because the company is under liquidation,” he said.

Mr Dera said land and buildings have to be sold through registered estate agents in order to get maximum possible value.

Motor vehicles, furniture, fittings and equipment are sold through auction, which is independent of the liquidator, he said.

Jaggers was once one of the leading distributors of fast-moving consumer goods before the company was acquired by businessman and farmer Mr Cecil Muderede in 2010.

Mr Muderede gained a controlling shareholding of the wholesale giant after buying out the previous major shareholder, Metcash Africa, a South African company, through his investment vehicle Borlscade Investment (Pvt) Limited.

But the liquidation process has recently been dogged by complaints of unfair and allegedly unclear handling of the process amid claims most workers have not been paid their dues.

Some of the workers, especially former managers, claimed that they have not received their dues from a process that started over five years ago when Jaggers collapsed.

Reservations have also been made about pension funds, but Mr Dera said workers’ pensions were a creditor like any other and a dividend had been made in accordance with the rules.

As such, a number of former executives and managers are holding on to vehicles, which Mr Dera said should be surrendered for sale to benefit all creditors including other workers.

“Needless to say that, this act by a few executives to hold on to assets of a company in liquidation is unlawful. We reserve the right to file a formal complaint with the authorities should this illegal conduct persists,” Mr Dera said.

Some disgruntled workers  recently wrote to the Master of High Court, who presides over  company liquidations, and Judicial Services Commission, over the way the liquidation of Jaggers has been handled.

 

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