Mackay Sugar has announced a lifeline the same day it revealed its chief executive had gone from the top job about a week ago.
According to a statement from the miller, CEO Jason Lowry resigned Friday and chairman Mark Day was put in charge in the interim.
The board released the statement yesterday afternoon to growers and shareholders thanking Mr Lowry “for his many contributions over the past five and a half years”.
Mackay Sugar announced the move on its website saying Mr Lowry’s resignation was effective from January 19.
“Mr Lowry has taken the decision to explore new opportunities for him and his family as the company transitions through the recapitalisation plan,” the circular said.
The resignation comes after the company announced that it was looking for a buyer, or an investment partner to help inject capital into the business and pay down some of the $180 million debt that is threatening to drown the company.
But the miller has been thrown somewhat of a lifeline after FIIG Securities and Bank of New York Mellon agreed to a 12-month extension to a $50 million unsecured bond that was due to mature on April 5.
That was announced in another circular issued yesterday afternoon, in which Mackay Sugar also said senior banks NAB and Rabobank would give in principal support to extend the company’s existing facilities for 12 months.
But, the company still has a lot of work to do to reduce debt and increase milling performance.
A sugar mill man, Mark Day took over from former chairman Andrew Cappello on November 15, after serving as a board member for six months.
He was brought onto the board as a non-grower director in May 2017, having spent three and a half years in Brazil as operations director for eight sugar cane factories owned by Bunge Brazil.
Prior to that he had an extensive career with CSR/ Wilmar in sugar, managing CSR’s cane sugar businesses as executive general manager for six years and two years in Indonesia with Wilmar on expansion opportunities in that region.
Previously Mr Day worked for CSR as a shift supervisor in the Mackay region in 1980.
Mr Day has not responded to The Daily Mercury’s requests for an interview since November.
Mr Lowry was appointed CEO in August 2015, replacing Quinton Hilderbrand, would have been instrumental to any negotiations with potential buyers.
Mr Lowry’s departure, coupled with emerging rumours two parties are interested in Mackay Sugar, has many growers demanding more transparency from the company. His resignation is expected to trigger heated discussion at a round of long-awaited shed meetings from February 5.
Mr Lowry did not return calls from the Mercury.