A-Tec sale hit by Penta lawsuit

The sale of broke industrial company A-Tec Industries AG (A-Tec) could be overruled by judges after a defeated bidder revealed plans to appeal the deal in court.

Czech-Slovakian investment company Penta announced today (Tues) an affiliate has asked the Commercial Court of Vienna for an injunction of the agreement between A-Tec bosses, representatives of creditors and purchaser Contor Industries Gmbh (Contor).

Penta argued Contor was established and officially registered for business by Thomas Schätti, an ex-A-Tec employee and consultant only on 25 June, 10 days after the deadline for offers for the bankrupt company. Penta also accused Schätti of having breached rules for fair competition since he was in touch with them as well as A-Tec and garnered confidential information that way before founding Contor to place an offer himself.

Penta and A-Tec engaged in war of words before. A-Tec chief Mirko Kovats, who may remain in charge despite the sale of the company to Contor, claimed a few days before the takeover this month that former members of KGB, the Soviet Union’s national security agency, founded Penta. He also said the entrepreneurs failed to make clear where their assets originated from.

Now Penta announced Contor breached various insolvency procedure agreements. Contor has to pay 200 million Euros to a trustee by 30 September to fulfil the agreed 47 per cent quote for creditors of A-Tec which opted for controlled bankruptcy proceedings last October. However, judges at Vienna’s Commercial Court may declare the whole takeover agreement null and void and order a restart of the sale.

The purchase of Contor drew the ire of Wilhelm Rasinger of Austrian investors’ protection group IVA. Rasinger said the deal came after a “dirty campaign” against Penta. He claimed the deal was an attempt to cover up bad investment decisions by A-Tec in the past years like the purchase of three “unnecessary” airplanes.

Rasinger also said A-Tec boss Mirko Kovats should have resigned instantly after his firm declared bankruptcy last year. Kovats explained he will resign at the end of this year. He is expected to reduce the 66.6 per cent he holds in A-Tec.

A-Tec is engaged in various industrial operations. It manufactures tools and machinery, builds factories and operates in the minerals and metals sector. Its financial difficulties shocked shareholders and analysts since A-Tec achieved a turnover of three billion Euros in 2009 when the firm had 12,000 employees worldwide.

A-Tec board members and managers could face embezzlement and accounting fraud charges, according to business newspapers which revealed in July that prosecutors searched offices and home of Kovats in July.