James Thomson Financial Rewiew BRW 13 June 2013
A furious Lee Fleming says he had a deal to sell his iconic horse stud Eliza Park and claims National Australia Bank put the business into receivership without discussing it with him.
Fleming announced in March that he was trying to sell Eliza Park, with reports suggesting a price tag of around $20 million.
However, it appeared a sale had failed to materialise, with receivers from insolvency firm PBB taking control of the business last week.
But Fleming says suggestions that the business couldn’t attract a buyer are wrong. He says he had a foreign buyer lined up to buy the business.
“Contracts were at solicitors for corrections and sale was only days away from being announced,” Fleming told BRW.
Fleming has refused to name the buyer, but Eliza Park had been working with Sunshine International, owned by Cheng Ting Kong, a businessman who races horses throughout Asia, most of which have the word “sunshine” in their name.
The group purchased more than $2 million worth of horses at the recent Magic Millions National Weanling Sale, including one of the top lots at the sale, a $290,000 foal by leading sire Fastnet Rock.
A media release on the sale described Eliza Park and Sunshine International as “working closely” together.
“We are very excited about investing in Australia with Eliza Park,” Cheng said in the release. “It has been a very interesting sale so far and now we’re hoping to pick up some nice mares over the next couple of days.”
But before Fleming could get a sale over the line, he says NAB pulled the plug.
“NAB, in their infinite wisdom, put Eliza into receivership with no discussion with me, apparently in the belief they could run it better than me.
“The proof will be seen soon, I guess, but there is no doubt that their meddling and arrogant attitude will see Eliza sold for a lot less than.
“Or worse, the buyer will walk away.”
A NAB spokesman said the bank was unable to comment on the specifics of the case, but said it did work with businesses that were in difficulty.
“Due to confidentially we’re not able to discuss specific customer circumstances, however when customers experience difficulties NAB works with them on an individual case-by-case basis.”