Lhere Artepe is unlikely to make money from its Mount Johns residential development (above).
By ERWIN CHLANDA
Lhere Artepe Enterprises Pty Ltd (LAE), the commercial arm of Alice Springs’ Native Title Holders, was facing the possibility of going into liquidation when it sacked its CEO Darryl Pearce in December 2011.
Since then it has discharged a multi-million dollar debt to a private lender, and put in place a debt repayment schedule it can service with its existing assets – plus some help from the Commonwealth government, says spokeswoman Sally McMartin.
“There is some light at the end of the tunnel.”
The company was set up by Mr Pearce separate from the Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation (LAAC). However, senior native title holders – including Deputy to the Administrator, Pat Miller – are directors.
Ms McMartin says the 28 residential blocks in Mount Johns Valley are all sold except three and a further three are under contract. However, the company is not likely to make a profit from the land development.
“Because of the downturn in the market it took longer than expected to sell the blocks,” says Ms McMartin.
She says there was some tough negotiating with the private lender, resulting in a “significantly reduced debt” and his liens on the company’s three IGA supermarkets – Flynn Drive, Northside and Lindsay Avenue – have been discharged.
The supermarkets were bought in part with a Federal grant, and the assets’ use as collateral by the private lender was frowned upon by the government. Government are aware that the fixed and floating charges have now been discharged.
There has been some help with the remaining debts from Indigenous Business Australia: its “great support” is also assisting with the upgrading of the supermarkets including upgrading of health and safety matters.
There will be continuing efforts to further enhance the earnings of the retail businesses which are already “very profitable, viable businesses”.
Ms McMartin would not disclose the amount still owed but says the repayments are within the capability of LAE.
Dividends from the 40% share of the Yeperenye Shopping Centre, some of which had been “taken in advance,” will also start to flow again.
“It’s a huge turn-around through strong leadership of the Lhere Artepe Enterprise Board,” says Ms McMartin. “I would be very happy to give LAAC members a briefing and welcome the opportunity.”