Rasinger blamed for A-Tec disaster

Mirko Kovats has harshly attacked Wilhelm Rasinger over the bankruptcy of A-Tec Industries AG (A-Tec).

The industrial company – which consists of various affiliates operating in the raw material sector, the creation of factories and the production of tools – was founded by Kovats. It had to open insolvency procedures last year. The controlled bankruptcy failed last week when a consortium interested in taking over did not manage to pay the 210 million Euros before a deadline which were needed to fulfil creditors’ quote of 47 per cent.

Now Kovats said the demise of A-Tec was also Rasinger’s fault. Speaking about the official of Austrian investors’ protection group IVA, the businessman said yesterday (Mon): “Someone travelled the country to call for the dissolution of the (A-Tec) holding – now he achieved his goal. Thanks a lot, Mister Rasinger.”

Kovats bemoaned that “good companies were about to be sold to firms from the Eastern Bloc and Asia.” He added: “Now there is nothing we can do about this.” Kovats claimed he always tried to find an Austrian solution for his once prospering enterprise. However, the agreement between the A-Tec board and Contor Industries Gmbh (Contor) was under scrutiny by A-Tec shareholders and the media due to the close links of Contor decision-makers and Kovats. Contor founder Thomas Schätti used to work for Kovats, newspapers reported, pointing out that the company had the same address as A-Tec.

Penta, a Czech-Slovakian investment group interested in bagging A-Tec, even threatened with legal procedures after it was announced that A-Tec would be sold to Contor. Penta stressed Contor was founded and officially registered to do business only after firms willing to take over A-Tec had to hand in their offers. Kovats said yesterday the lawsuit as envisaged by Penta may have also scared away a Pakistani businessman who initially wanted to take over an A-Tec subsidiary company.

The press conference held by Kovats was his first public appearance in nearly one year. He most recently addressed the press on 20 October to disclose the upcoming bankruptcy proceedings. Asked whether he did anything wrong in the past years, Kovats mentioned the “too fast” expansion in 2008 when an immense economic crisis shattered the global economy. Referring to Kovats’ attack on Rasinger and his overall attitude after the attempt to sell A-Tec in an organised way failed, the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper titled today that he “blamed the others.” The Kurier wrote that Kovats considered himself as an “innocent lamb”.

Kovats informed the media yesterday that he wanted to achieve a 30 per cent quote for A-Tec creditors. The initially agreed 47 per cent rate would have meant payments of investors of 210 million Euros. Kovats emphasised that many of A-Tec’s key subsidiary firms were doing well, adding that he “nearly lost everything” himself in the past months. Kovats still holds a 66.6 per cent interest in A-Tec. He is expected to withdraw from the holding’s executive board after trustee Matthias Schmidt sold the Vienna-based firm’s biggest affiliates.

Schmidt was criticised by Rasinger at the weekend. The IVA representative appealed on the trustee to resign for not having worked professionally. Rasinger claimed Schmidt lacked the needed distance to Kovats. Schmidt hit back by accusing Rasinger of not being aware of the facts. Rasinger also said it was “a mistake I warned of many times” to let Kovats handle the controlled bankruptcy himself.

Kovats deplored a possible “soaking up of know how by investors from the Eastern Bloc and Asia.” He added the firms which would grab A-Tec would try to get rid of the industrial company again as soon as possible – possible measures that evoke memories of Kovats’ previous decision-making, the Salzburger Nachrichten pointed out. Kovats has been praised by some analysts and market observers for managing to successfully restructure ailing companies after taking over. His critics have stressed that many of these firms’ employees had to leave in the process. A-Tec has around 5,000 staff. The company, which once had 12,000 employees, achieved a turnover of three billion Euros in 2009. Its insolvency came as a surprise to most experts.

People’s Party (ÖVP) General Secretary Hannes Rauch ruled out on Sunday that ÖIAG, the Federal Industry-Holding Stock Corporation would get involved in trying to keep some firms linked to A-Tec in Austrian hands. Rauch said ÖIAG “must not become a bankruptcy holding.” His statements came after Günther Kräuter, the Austrian Social Democrats’ (SPÖ) General Secretary, suggested an engagement of ÖIAG should be considered. The SPÖ and the ÖVP have been in federal government since 2007. ÖIAG manages the state’s participations in OMV AG, Post AG and Telekom Austria (TA). Markus Beyrer succeeded Peter Michaelis as head of ÖIAG half a year ago.