Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Administration for Australia bank

Australian currency
Babcock's debt levels had raised concerns for some time

Australia's second largest investment bank, Babcock & Brown, has gone into administration after it was unable to deal with its massive debt levels.

The former private equity powerhouse, had struggled for more than a year.

Babcock's downfall was blamed on taking on too much debt - and then being unable to cope in the credit crunch.

At its peak, shares were worth 37 Australian dollars (£17.40; US$24.20) but when suspended about three months ago, were worth just 32.5 cents.


Efforts to avoid administration failed when a group of shareholders rejected a proposed debt restructuring, with Deloitte being appointed as administrators.

Like with Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws in the US, firms entering voluntary administration in Australia can attempt to trade out of financial difficulties.

But administrator David Lombe told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that it was too early to say whether Babcock could avoid collapse.

While administrators will run the company on behalf of creditors, Babcock said that it would focus on "ensuring that the value of assets and business platforms is preserved during this process and all assets and businesses continue to be managed appropriately".

Its satellite investment funds, Babcock & Brown Infrastructure - which owns UK port firm PD Ports - said it was unaffected by the administration.

Babcock had been hailed a success, likened to a mini-version of Australia's most dominant investment bank Macquarie.

Last November, Macquarie announced a sharp fall in profits but said it did not need to raise cash.

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