27 June 2023
Minister Kiri Allan announces $5M for RAL liquidator to open for winter
A post-liquidation bid from Tūwharetoa is offered to Minister Kiri Allan
The news from the Crown and Minister Kiri Allan yesterday that a $5M line of funding has been made available to PwC is good news for our local community providing some immediate direction for a 2023 snow sports season. However it is unfortunate that this cost falls on the taxpayer due to a failure to complete the acquisitions with the Crown’s preferred bidders, Whakapapa Holdings Ltd and Pure Tūroa Ltd prior to winter 2023.
It was a surprising development for a new bidder to emerge late last week following such a long, intensive and costly due diligence and bid preference process undertaken by MBIE. Also given the past 6 weeks of work we've undertaken with RAL staff and PwC on splitting operations ready for the separate owners.
This along with the recent issues that came to light surrounding the handling of the DoC Concession have put the RAL assets acquisition process and timing into uncertainty. This all places Pure Tūroa in a difficult situation. We are now faced with continuing to have our team and advisors engaged at significant ongoing cost, or to evaluate whether we should withdraw from the process.
We’ve been engaged in a complex and often perplexing process with the Crown and PwC. It’s a difficult and high stress situation with so much at stake for iwi, local businesses and the RAL staff who are working so hard under continually changing circumstances driven by their passion for the maunga.
We do remain optimistic and will support the best outcome for our region, but we feel we now need to express some realities we’re dealing with. We also remain convinced that splitting the two fields into separate ownership entities adds a healthy spirit of competition and opens many new exciting possibilities focused around the characteristics of each field and their surrounding communities.
We have serious concerns about what level of Tūroa lift facilities can be operational under a liquidator-run season. Retreating to a ‘spine’ operation will severely impact revenue and the town’s economic performance given an expected lower number of visitors. Pure Tūroa has built a highly experienced operations team complementing existing RAL Tūroa staff, who are ready and willing to start work under Pure Tūroa management.
There are significant deferred maintenance costs including at least a $1M contract payment required immediately to ensure future safe and reliable operations. This part payment of a larger contract is vital to ensure Tūroa is operationally ready beyond just 2023. Additionally Tūroa is now behind on staff recruitment due to the uncertainty following the watershed meeting and unlikely to build the full team required for a full service offering.
Quickly building market confidence at this late stage to convince visitors to commit to the costs of coming to ride Tūroa will also be a challenge. Cashflow will be under immense pressure given there has not been any preseason sales.
We are also conscious that the RAL trade creditors, whom Pure Tūroa has committed to pay in full as part of our acquisition, are now in limbo.
The above issues are not insurmountable and Pure Tūroa remains confident that when the DoC Concession issues are resolved, we can step in and start our plan to lift Tūroa to a new level.
We will continue to work with iwi, MBIE and PwC to do the best we can to bring about an independent Tūroa operation that delivers growth and new opportunities to our southern mountain communities.
We want to really thank our local businesses, RAL staff, and the snow sports community who have shown us overwhelming support over the past few weeks. We want to reassure you that Pure Tūroa will continue to work tirelessly on securing the best outcome for Tūroa.
More to come later in the week.