Creditors left in the lurch
Gray Aqua employees check on fish in one of the company’s cages. — Submitted photo
A notice to creditors of Gray Aqua Group Ltd. declaring the company’s insolvency had yet to arrive in some corporate inboxes as The Telegram made calls on the subject Wednesday.
Of two Newfoundland and Labrador companies who spoke with the paper, both their experiences with the aquaculture company and opinions towards its financial situation were decidedly split.
At Blue Water Marine and Equipment in Mount Pearl, owner and operator Wayne Williams said he had received a call from trustee Ernst and Young telling him it would be a little while before Gray Aqua can settle up with his company.
“And I had a letter come from them showing all the creditors and how much is owed out,” he said.
“I’m suing the president of the company because I have a personal guarantee from him of my outstanding (amount). So I just yesterday ... instructed my lawyer to sue him, personally. ... They told me that they were just waiting for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or whoever it was … because they had insurance and once they get the money from them they were paying the creditors. I kind of felt, speaking to him several times, that they were just pulling the wool over my eyes. I kind of expected this, actually.”
Williams said he does not believe his company will ultimately receive the $10,400 it is owed. “When I look at $39 million (owed) to creditors — that’s a lot of salmon,” he said.
He said the level of public money put forward as loans for Gray Aqua — at both the provincial and federal level — was “very inappropriate.”
“It hurts, but it won’t close my doors. I mean I’m sure there’s other people out there, looking down the list, that it will certainly close their doors, probably. It will really hurt.”
Melvin MacDonald’s Bayview Groceteria in Conne River is owed $86,000 by Gray Aqua Group. The business owner said he is aware of the troubles the aquaculture company is facing and has been speaking with company representatives.
“Hopefully we’ll get paid before too long, once they get restructured,” he said. “They’re still buying from us and we’ve got a good relationship with the company.”
However, he said the Bayview Groceteria is not allowing anything more to Gray Aqua on credit.
“What they’re doing with us now is paying in advance.”
A list of Gray Aqua Group Ltd. creditors owed more than $250, obtained by The Telegram, includes more than 35 companies with offices in Newfoundland and Labrador, companies based in other provinces and government agencies.