PERTH, Australia — The Supreme Court of the state of Victoria today appointed receivers and managers for brewing interests held by Bond Corp. Holdings Ltd. of Australia.
Australian media speculated that the move marked the beginning of the end for the Bond empire, controlled by Alan Bond, chairman of the cash-strapped media, brewing, natural resources and property concern.
The move also cast further doubt on the future of G. Heileman Brewing Co. of Milwaukee, owned by Bond.
Earlier today, Bond Corp. disclosed a proposal to sell its Australian brewing assets, among Bond's main businesses.
National Australia Bank Ltd., which requested the court action, is a major lender to Bond Corp. National Australia heads a syndicate of banks that it says is owed $695 million by Bond Corp.
The banks include First National Bank of Boston, Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corp., Toronto Dominion Bank, Mitsubishi Trust & Banking Corp. and Standard Chartered PLC of Britain.
In a statement issued late today, Bond Corp. said, "In light of the strong financial condition of the breweries, there is absolutely no foundation for the allegation that a serious deterioration in the business puts the lenders at risk."
Bond, which immediately launched rival court action to fend off the receivership, said in a statement that the brewing units have not missed any principal or interest payments to the Australia bank-led syndicate.
The Bond units included in today's court action include Bond Brewing Holdings Ltd., Bond Brewing Investments Pty., Swan Brewery Co., Castlemaine Perkins Ltd., Tooheys Ltd. and BBH Securities Pty.
The court decision raised speculation that similar action might be taken by Bond's other creditors and force into receivership his entire group of companies controlled under the umbrella of Bond Corp.
"In theory, it could trigger the repayment of every other facility we have," said Peter Lucas, executive director of Bond Corp. "It could bring Bond down."