12 January 2016, Written by Nick Nichols


NICK Abboud has resigned as CEO of embattled Dick Smith Holdings (ASX:DSH) as receivers and managers weigh up a swag of offers to sell the business as a going concern.

The move was not unexpected by Abboud, the former Myer executive who was credited with turning around the company's fortunes in the year it was under private equity control.

The Dick Smith posting was Abboud's first CEO position, and came with a big pay cheque ahead of Dick Smith's $520 million public float in 2013.

Abboud, who received about $6 million from Anchorage Capital Partners as part of the float process, was paid $1.4 million in FY15. He remains a significant shareholder of the company, with 15.3 million shares, which were worth as much as $34 million when the company floated.

Dick Smith Holdings was placed into voluntary administration on January 4 with debts of $390 million. It is understood the company was forced to throw in the towel after losing support of its banks in the wake of a weaker than expected Christmas sale period.

Receivers James Stewart, Jim Sarantinos and Ryan Eagle, of Ferrier Hodgson have appointed former Fusion Brands CEO Don Grover as interim CEO while they go through a wave of offers to buy the company.

Grover has 'significant expertise' in retail with more than 30 years' experience, they say. Apart from his role at Retail Fusion Brands, which owns the Diana Ferrari, Williams, Mathers and Colorado brands, Grover has held senior positions with Dymocks and David Jones.

The receivers say Grover will assist them to run the Dick Smith business as they formulate a restructuring plan for the business in order to sell it as a going concern. Advertisements have been placed online and in the press seeking expressions of interest for the company.

"These advertisements come on the back of over 40 initial expressions of interest from various parties prior to the commencement of the advertising campaign," say the receivers in a statement to the ASX.

"The receivers and managers will be seeking further expressions of interest by or on January 27.

"Once the receivers have assessed the non-binding expressions of interest they will develop a short list of parties who will be invited to commence initial due diligence and then submit formal offers. This process is expected to continue well into February.

Creditors are due to meet for the first time on Thursday when they will be briefed by voluntary administrators Joseph Hayes, Jason Preston, Jamie Harris and Matt Caddy, of McGrathNicol.

The receivers have revealed that Dick Smith has secured debts of $140 million and unsecured debts of $250 million to trade suppliers.

The electronics retail group operates 393 stores in Australia and New Zealand under four brands, Dick Smith, Electronics powered by Dick Smith, Move and Move by Dick Smith.

The fate of all stores and the company's 3300 staff remains in limbo ahead of the proposed sale process.

Author: Nick Nichols





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