Cosalt sale is 'sad, very sad', says chairman David Ross
THE chairman of Cosalt Plc, David Ross, has told of the deep personal disappointment at having Grimsby's only listed company fail, as he was forced to admit defeat and call in the administrators.
With £17 million owed to lenders, and the debt about to be called in with credit facilities having expired, banks RBS and HSBC were approached yesterday to start the process that will see assets sold off to meet the burden.
A large pension deficit is also understood to be weighing heavily on a firm, which has roots dating back to the co-operative formed out of a meeting of town businessmen held 140 years ago this past week.
Mr Ross, the third successive generation of his family to chair the company, said: "It is very sad, very sad indeed."
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Eight years ago he invested nearly £5-million to secure 12 per cent of the company, a figure that ratcheted up to 56 per cent when he sought to take it private early last year, although by then the share price had fallen to an all time low.
Appointed chairman in June 2008, warnings about the financial security of the firm have been sounded throughout, but the Carphone Warehouse co-founder had hoped to be able to secure it, and target new markets including offshore wind. That element ceased trading last month, as reported.
"It is a position of great disappointment and upset," he said. "I got involved in the situation to try and maintain the heritage of the business and try and maintain the family stake in the company. We have tried absolutely everything to try and rescue this.
"Over the last 12 months since we launched the bid to take the company private, I have been negotiating with every possible party to resolve all the issues. Cosalt has been part of the town's heritage for 140 years. It has been there for a long, long time, and part of my family for a long, long time too. Every bone in my body wanted to get the situation sorted out. "That's what I wanted to do and I have been working hard over the last year to try and achieve. If you can't do it, you can't do it, and that's what you learn in life. If it is not possible, you have just got to move on. This was a situation that was impossible to pin down."
Of his personal situation, with a company – Oval – set up as part of the buy-out attempt also a key lender, adding to his own shareholding losses, Mr Ross said: "It is not a great situation. We tried to take the business private and sort this situation out privately a year ago. Money invested in doing that has effectively now gone, as has a large percentage of loans I made available to the company."