6 September 2002

Quick sale on the cards for Amelca

POTENTIAL buyers of Amelca, the troubled Derbyshire-based dairy, have been queueing up to view the site. With a quick sale increasingly likely, farmers who were hoping to put together their own bid admit that time isrunning out.

Receiver Bob Maxwell, of Deloitte & Touche, says he has received over 40 enquiries about the business, which went into receivership almost three weeks ago. "Weve already got rumblings of serious interest from a handful of people. So far interest has been exceptionally good."

The deadline for tenders is Sept 11, when contracts will be issued for companies to complete on a first-come, first-served basis.

However, Mr Maxwell doesnt think the sale price will be enough to repay farmers, many of whom are desperately out of pocket. "Id be surprised if it was enough, as shareholders are last in the pecking order." Preferred creditors and the Bank of Scotland, which is owed well over £11m, will be first in line, he adds.

Local farmer and shareholder, Dib Atkinson, says 28 suppliers are owed for six weeks milk on top of their initial stake – totalling more than £120,000 in some cases. Although discussions with potential new partners to raise finance for a farmer-backed bid have been unsuccessful so far, some avenues are still open, she adds. "Were still looking for ways out."

Suppliers were due to attend an NFU meeting with Mr Maxwell to discuss progress since the receiver was called in. &#42