Economy

Sale process begins for heavily indebted Ventures West


Ten days after successfully filing for creditor protection, the NWT's Ventures West trucking firm has begun the process of selling off its assets.

All but five jobs at Ventures West and Tłı̨chǫ Landtran, transport companies owned by the Tłı̨chǫ Investment Corporation, have now gone. Remaining staff are overseeing the companies' dismantling.

The companies collapsed under the weight of multi-million-dollar losses in recent years. They owe $37.6 million to their parent Tłı̨chǫ Investment Corporation and $15.6 million in the form of a CIBC loan.

Advertisement.

In late November, Tłı̨chǫ Investment Corporation boss Mark Brajer said the companies had missed out on a major diamond mine contract and could no longer operate.

Now, the process of stripping away all their assets – raising funds to help pay creditors – is taking place.

On December 6, an Alberta court granted an order allowing the companies to spend the next few months selling off hundreds of trucks and trailers. Alberta has jurisdiction as the companies based their operations in Sherwood Park, near Edmonton.

All property is being sold "on an as-is, where-is basis," said MNP, the insolvency specialists called in to handle Ventures West's collapse.

The items on sale range from trucks and tanker trailers to portable office trailers, shipping containers, and shop equipment. Even an ongoing contract to supply cement to the Diavik diamond mine is on offer.

Advertisement.

While interested parties can attempt to buy any of the items available, documents published by MNP state "preference will be given to en-bloc offers."

A full list of the items for sale (scroll to page 17) suggests there are around 10 to 15 tractors available for purchase, alongside well over 100 trailers of various types.

Also available are a range of pick-up trucks and a grader.

The deadline to submit offers is February 14, 2020.

Meanwhile, people who had been working with the companies at the time of their demise expressed dismay and worry as the scale of the collapse became apparent.

Jeff Samson, who owns two trucks and was reported to have been working with Ventures West for four years, told NNSL nobody had been answering his calls last week.

"I’m not very impressed with Tłı̨chǫ [the investment corporation] right now," Samson told the newspaper. "I understand their circumstance but some notice would have been appreciated, and not knowing if we are even going to get paid is stressful. Being the owner of two trucks means every cent counts."

Ronald Dickson, owner of Dickson's Trucking – reportedly owed more than $26,000 by the transport companies – told the CBC: "It hurts everybody. I'm not a very big company.

"This has been coming for a few years, but everyone was hoping they would not fail."

Advertisement.