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further investigation follows

Netherlands: Setbacks in cultivation caused a loss of millions at A.C. Hartman

A loss of almost 12 million euro in 2018 on a turnover of 30 million euro, a negative equity of 19.7 million euro at the end of 2018 and a large number of outstanding mortgages, amounting to more than 30 million euro. It didn't all look that rosy for A. C. Hartman, as can be seen from the bankruptcy trustee's first bankruptcy report and so bankruptcy was not unfounded.

A restart has now been achieved and Best Fresh Group is the owner. That after 8.4 million euro was paid by KMB Vastgoed B.V., a company affiliated with Best Fresh, for the existing real estate, movable property and certain intangible assets.

Here it concerns 7.25 million euro for the various greenhouse horticulture complexes including offices, sorting shed and installations, just over 1 million for movable properties and 100,000 euro for the intangible assets.

A large part of the staff (68 permanent staff) will also be taken over, although a new dismissal round was announced last week, with a total of between 20 and 25 staff in danger of being fired.

Cause of bankruptcy
A total of 9 private companies were involved in the bankruptcy. The directors of A.C. Hartman, since November 2018, were K. Tewarie and M. Meinsma, point among other things to 'certain diseases in the greenhouses' and the lack of buyers for certain harvests.

After financial assistance from Rabobank, a total of six mortgages are still open for a total of 30 million euro, and a capital injection by the directors in 2018, the following season was started. The hot summer ‘resulted in relatively uncontrolled growth of the crops with associated negative consequences,’ the bankruptcy report says.

In 2019, an unsuccessful attempt was made to sell the assets of the bankrupt companies by means of a sales process. Because a (seasonal) credit could no longer be obtained, the bankruptcies of the bankrupt companies eventually became inevitable. That happened on their own declaration, according to curator Hillie Lunter in the report.

Further investigation
However, a deliberate choice was made to continue to run the business, because, as the bankruptcy trustee stated earlier, the value of the 'going concern' assets was estimated to be significantly higher than in a 'liquidation scenario'.

The bankruptcy trustee and her team will conduct further investigation in the coming period, including into possible 'improper management' and 'the regularity of work', standard procedures in the event of a bankruptcy.

Furthermore, three ongoing procedures also must be taken into account. A dispute with the State Secretary for Economic Affairs about the repayment of granted subsidies, a procedure in which the heirs of the late Willem Hartman claim a granted loan and a case for whose account will be the (loss-making) exploitation of a former industrial site in Erica.

An interim judgment has already been stated in the subsidy case and now both parties must provide clarity about the parties involved in the dispute. In the case between the heirs and A. C. Hartman Beheer B.V. the verdict is planned in January 2020, just like in the proceedings on the industrial site in Erica.


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