Corporate recovery firm PPB has announced that it has found buyers for the majority of the 241 ABC Learning Centres under its control, but 19 will be closed.
“This is an excellent outcome, particularly as all of these centres were assessed by the ABC receiver McGrathNicol as not being viable under the ABC Learning business model,” said receiver Stephen Parbery in a statement.
The company has said it has found 65 buyers for the centres, and 80% of existing employees are expected to remain employed by the group. McGrathNicol will continue to operate the 720 centres that are still profitable.
”While further work is required to conclude appropriate settlement arrangements, we are satisfied sufficient progress has been made to name the proposed new operators for 193 centres,” said Parbery.
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”Additionally, we are close to concluding negotiations with the proposed new operators for 17 centres and will name these over the coming days. This means that we are confident that 210 centres will continue to operate into the future.”
A total of 19 centres will close, while another group of eight sites remain on the sale block.
”PPB will continue to explore every possible option to find sustainable solutions for this group of centres and will continue to have Australian Government support, which will enable these centres to operate until June 2009 if necessary,” PPB said.
Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has welcomed the announcement, but has said it is unfortunate that centres remain without buyers.
“On behalf of the Government I’d like to welcome that announcement and welcome the fact that 210 centres are to be put into the hands of new operators,” she said during a press conference.
“The Government has supported this process with an allocation in the budget, and this process has resulted in greater diversity…in the industry.”
But Gillard has also said that “unfortunately, operators could not be found for every centre”, and that these centres will be closed by 15 May.
“This has been a difficult process and a difficult time, it has caused a lot of work and stress and strain,” she said.