The Commercial Justice of Rio Negro has authorized an arrangement with creditors of Ecofrut, one of the main pear and apple exporting companies of the sector.
With debts of just over $400 million the company stopped making payments a few months ago and, according to projections, its creditors will have to wait at least a year and a half to be paid. This is a great concern for the whole fruit sector of the Alto Valle de Río Negro, as many primary producers who could also face bankruptcy due to this.
Other suppliers of the company, who are also affected by this event, are evaluating how to contain the situation and, in some cases, are delaying the payment of salaries to their employees. This situation has affected agrochemical companies, sellers of supplies needed for packaging, as well as third-party warehouses where the fruit is stored.
According to the judicial file, Ecofrut has fiscal debts of $ 70.3 million; financial debts for $ 107.1 million; commercial debts totaling $ 243.8 million; debts to the social security system that amount to $ 10.1 million; and "documents" for $ 12 million.
Faced with this scenario, there is also an issue that worries the other exporting companies that operate in the province. The majority of Ecofrut's debts to local banks correspond to pre-financing for exports. This is a very common financial tool in the sector to be able to operate. The sector's companies are worried that, due to this company's cessation of payments, the banks further restrict access to credit to the sector or that they make tougher demands to access said credits.
In the midst of this complicated situation there is a small ray of hope for some of the company's creditors, as Ecofrut managed to export just over 5,000 kilos of fruit before pleading bankruptcy and still hasn't charged for much of what it sold abroad. This means that an important sum, that could serve to alleviate the debt, should enter the system shortly.
Of course, the banks would be the first to be paid while primary producers and smaller suppliers would have to wait at least a year and a half. The situation for the company's more than 350 employees is one of total uncertainty. The company hasn't paid employer and social security contributions corresponding to its staff for at least a year and it is also behind in salary payments.