Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Investment group's unit in bankruptcy

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The restructuring of Tribal Councils Investment Group took hard-edged form this week with the closing of one of its units.

Precambrian Wholesale Ltd. was placed into bankruptcy and all 20 of its employees have been let go.

Joel Lazer of Lazer Grant, the professional services firm hired by TCIG nearly eight months ago to assist in the restructuring after a new board took over, said it was an unfortunate decision that had to be made.

"We made significant efforts to sell Precambrian to keep it going but we were not successful," Lazer said. "It's too bad. Precambrian was a good business but it required significant investment of both time and money."

Precambrian was a long-standing wholesaler to northern and remote retailers even before it was acquired by TCIG about a decade ago.

There were rumours for some time the business was suffering from cash-flow issues aggravated by ballooning accounts receivables, with some customers delaying payment as it seemed the end was near.

"That happens every time," Lazer said. "People stop paying their bills."

Meanwhile, Lazer said a refinancing deal for TCIG is imminent.

When former CEO Allan McLeod and other executives were let go by the new board because of a growing conflict between management and owners -- the seven Manitoba tribal councils -- one of Lazer's main tasks was to find a replacement lender to TCIG's banker, RBC, which wanted out.

Lazer said a new lender has been identified and it may be as soon as one week away from having a deal in place. He said a new management team is also waiting in the wings, ready to take over when the new financing is finalized.

Lazer said "significant progress has been made to rehabilitate or improve the other subsidies" over the past seven to eight months.

"We're working closely with a re-financer and we expect positive news from them shortly." he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2013 B7

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