The trouble McAleese Group was dealt a major blow this morning with administrators McGrath Nicol posting a notice that the Group was being placed into voluntary administration including its wholly owned subsidiaries, except Sunshine Refuellers.

The publicly listed McAleese Group includes heavy haulage specialist, McAleese Transport, Cootes Transport, National Crane Hire and Walter Wright Cranes, Specialised Transport and WA Freight Group.

Some Industry observers say the infamous Cootes tanker crash at Mona Vale in NSW in October 2013 triggered the struggles within the group, but more astute observation reveals that the company was always at risk from its high leverage and borrowings for the acquisition of new businesses. Cootes did struggle following the crash as many major customers walked away from the company in the wake of the horrific fire. At the time NSW Police and RMS audits of the Cootes fleet revealed wide scale problems with roadworthiness and maintenance standards.

McAleese fortunes took another blow not long after that when Heavy Haulage Australia, a company in which it had invested heavily, collapsed leaving massive debts and unfulfilled obligations.

Just two months ago as the financial year drew to a close McAleese inked an binding agreement with financiers for a proposed recapitalisation. It was apparently subject to two conditions being either satisfied or waived prior to the expiration of arrangements extended by McAleese financiers. Consequently one of these conditions was not met or waived by the financiers making McAleese Group debt payable immediately and triggering the voluntary administration.

McGrathNicol says the intention is to continue to operate all four-business units in the short-term while an urgent assessment of the business is undertaken. Cootes Transport is already up for sale and that is set to continue.