CLAYTON UTZ partners were called upon by administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers to string together a last minute deal, without which 10,000 workers in the automotive industry might have been stood down.
Lead by partners Paul James and Nick Miller, the Clayton Utz team worked around the clock for five days to put together a rescue package for the administrators of car parts manufacturer Ajax Fasteners.
“As an ‘agreement of necessity’, its unique situation not only presented a myriad of typical administration issues but obviously the outcome had far-reaching economic, political and social implications, which really put the pressure on,” James said.
Although Ajax had only 200 employees, the product they supplied was relied upon by the wider automotive industry. That meant that if the rescue package was not finalised at the end of the five days, around 10,000 employees could have been out of work.
The pressure of the situation was only increased by the high level of media attention at the time. “It was exciting, in the sense that it was a very dynamic situation. If you happened to look at a TV… every 15 minutes the news would roll past and the first item was how the exact talks we were involved in were going,” Miller said.
“And if that didn’t reach a conclusion soon, all these employees might be stood down, so it raises that little bit of extra pressure,” James added.
“While the administrators were in a fairly good bargaining position because the agreement reached would be underwritten by the car companies’ need to keep the parts flowing, nobody likes writing an open cheque,” James said.