Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The last desperate attempt to save Pattisons

Yes, we're back with Pattisons. Watching the few final twitches of its battered and bloody body.

Some of the creditors refused to let the idea of selling the business as a going concern die. Even after the liquidators had withdrawn their support for the syndicate's bid. Reading the following newspaper report, you might be led to assume that the deal was done and dusted and that the ship of Pattison's would continue plough the oceans.


A meeting of creditors of Pattisons, Limited, Leith. was held at Edinburgh yesterday to consider whether the business should be transferred to a London syndicate or wound up by liquidators.

Mr. Ross, of the Distillers' Company, Limited, presided over a large gathering, and said the syndicate were still willing to lodge money for the purchase. The total sum was stated to be £377,000, less liquidation expenses; and the syndicate were prepared to pay £345,000 in three equal instalments in two, three, and four months. If the scheme were adopted, the creditors should receive one-third of their dividend in five months. £50,000 would be lodged in the bank, and forfeited if the syndicate failed to carry out the scheme. The committee considered the securities adequate, while the bank was to be paid in cash. The committee advised the creditors to accept the offer.

The report, prepared by Mr. Richard Brown, chartered accountant, recommending the acceptance of the syndicate's offer, was then read.

The Chairman moved that the meeting approves generally the proposed sale and transfer of the assets of the company to the syndicate, and that a committee be appointed to conclude the arrangements, if satisfactory to the hereditable creditors, and to adjust a deed of arrangement and submit it to the creditors and court. That, he said, only committed them to a general approval.

Mr Blair, the liquidator's agent, made a statement against the scheme, and considerable discussion followed. An amendment was proposed to delay the decision for three days till further information was obtained, but it was pointed out that to do this would be to wreck the scheme. Ultimately the chairman's motion was adopted unanimously."
Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 27 May 1899, page 5.

As several times before, just when everything looked settled, another problem appeared. This time it was the guarantee of payment from the Ocean Accident and Guarantee Company. Their terms meant that the whole deal needed to be renegotiated. And there just wasn't time.


Lord Stormonth Darling, in the Court of Session yesterday, heard parties on a note for William Higgin and others in the liquidation of Pattisons, Limited. The Solicitor-General, who appeared for the petitioning creditors, referred to the report which the chairman of the meeting, held some time ago, had made to his lordship, and read a final report the purport of which was that the Ocean Accident and Guarantee Company had intimated their willingness to find cash to pay off the heritable bonds and to guarantee payment of the second and third instalments of the price, but the conditions on which they were prepared to do so required a readjustment of the terms for the acquisition of the property by the new company. The committee had done their utmost to arrange for this readjustment, but they regretted that they had been unable to bring the negotiations to a close within the time at their disposal. The period for which the liquidators were allowed to carry on the business expired on 3rd June. On 5th June the brewery was again advertised for sale by auction, and the committee were informed by Messrs Davidson and Syme that that had been done by agreement between the liquidators and the British Linen Company, In these circumstances the committee reported that they were not in a position to continue the negotiations. He had no motion to make, because he thought that exhausted the remit to the committee, and practically disposed of the note which the petitioners had presented.

Mr Campbell, for the liquidators, said that go far as he could see, the Solicitor-General had taken the correct view of matters, and the one that he (Mr Campbell) had intended to submit namely, that the note was new exhausted and should be taken out of court.

Mr Salvesen, who appeared for creditors whose claims amounted to £345,145, said he was instructed to attend to oppose any further extension for the carrying out of that scheme. A large body of the creditors had come to be of the opinion that the syndicate were trifling with them, and that they did not mean to go on with the scheme originally proposed.

The Solicitor-General demurred to this statement, and said he hoped he had said nothing to confirm that impression.

Lord Stormonth Darling, after further discussion, allowed the note of the creditors to drop, seeing it was exhausted, and allowed the petitioning creditors their expenses of the petition, of the meeting, and of the report."
Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 07 June 1899, page 6.

Ultimately negotiations with the syndicate had done nothing but inspire false hope amongst the creditors and cost them money. Because all the time the negotiations continues, Pattisons was trading at a loss. Which makes you wonder how successfully the syndicate could have run the business. Or had their intention all along just been to strip out the company's assets?

I can understand why the creditors felt like the syndicate had just been pissing them around. They kept changing their offer every time it looked like being accepted.

This decision meant the end for Pattisons and the sale of the company's assets by the liquidators. But it wasn't as simple as that. There were still a few twists and turns left in the tale.

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