MIDDAY UPDATE: Ross Asset receivership bills mount

By Paul McBeth

Nov. 27 (BusinessDesk) - The bill for the Ross Asset Management receivership and management is mounting, even though accounting and law firm partners are discounting their time in a case that's been described as bearing the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme.

PwC, law firm Bell Gully and First NZ Capital outlined their schedule of charges in a High Court hearing yesterday where they sought assurance that they could sell property of the Ross Group to recover their fees. Total costs were $153,683 including rent of Ross Asset’s offices, travel and accommodation for the receivers and other incidental costs related to the assessment of the group’s records.

The schedule shows that between Nov. 4 and Nov. 12, PwC charged out 40.8 hours of a partner’s time at $450 an hour for a total of $18,360 and 90.3 hours of a PwC director’s time at $400/hour, or $36,120 .In addition there was 4.8 hours of an associate director’s time at $350/hour, nine hours for a manager at $300/hour, 50.5 hours of a senior associate’s time at $220/hour and25.7 hours of support services charged out at $110/hour.

Bell Gully racked up 27.5 hours of partner fees at $490 an hour, 41 hours for a senior associate at $350/hour, 1.5 hours for a solicitor at $295/hour and 34 hours for a law clerk at $148/hour. While that adds up to about $33,000 the law firm’s overall fee was reduced to $24,625, the schedule shows.

First NZ Capital didn’t break down its charges, which totalled $9,400 plus costs of $565.

Fulton Hogan hocks off Otago forestry to global manager

Fulton Hogan, the privately-held construction firm, has got regulatory approval to sell its Otago forestry estates to a fund run by global investment manager GMO.

The Overseas Investment Office signed off on the deal last month, giving the thumbs-up to 3,013 hectares of forestry estate changing hands. Fulton Hogan is looking to sell off assets that aren't central to its construction and infrastructure businesses as it looks to bolster its balance sheet after a year where profit plunged 89 percent.

Falling dairy exports lead to third monthly trade deficit

New Zealand chalked up its third monthly trade deficit in October, repeating last year’s pattern, as shipments of dairy products fell and imports rose.

The deficit was $718 million last month from a revised gap of $775 million a month earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand. The annual deficit widened to $1.37 billion from a deficit of $880 million in the 12 months through September.

Exports in the month were valued at $3.46 billion, up from $3.3 billion in September, though down from $3.89 billion in October 2011. Shipments of dairy products dropped 20.2 percent to $813 million in the latest month from a year earlier, while meat exports fell 6.6 percent to $277 million.

Kiwi dollar falls as Euro finance chiefs bicker over Greece

The New Zealand dollar fell as European finance ministers couldn't cut a deal that would grant Greece the next tranche of its 130 billion euro bail-out.

The kiwi fell to 82.21 US cents at midday in Wellington from 82.40 cents yesterday, as no accord has been reached by European legislators hoping to offer the market some certainty on Greece.

The major sticking point appears to be whether the official sector, including the European Central Bank, will have to take a haircut on their Greek bond holdings.



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