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Chinese bus importer WMC in administration

On the bus: WMC might be in administration, but its Higer bus business appears to be secure in Australia where motor vehicle retail group AHG is taking an interest.

AHG appears set to take over Higer bus distributor WMC as administrators move in

14 Oct 2015

AUSTRALIA’S largest motor vehicle retail company, Automotive Holdings Group (AHG), looms as a potential white knight for Chinese vehicle importer, WMC, which has been placed in administration.

For now, it is business as usual for WMC, the importer of Chinese-made Higer buses and coaches.

Also known as White Motor Corporation (Australia), WMC was placed under the administration of BDO Australia on October 2, according to a notice posted on the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) website.

BDO administrators James White and Rachel Burdett-Baker organised a meeting of creditors at BDO’s Sydney office yesterday.

GoAuto understands an announcement from BDO on the future of WMC can be expected within days.

WMC managing director Neil Bamford is in China on business and unavailable for immediate comment.

However, GoAuto understands that WMC’s preferred course of action is to solidify its existing links with AHG, which has long had a strong business relationship with the importer that has been distributing Higer vehicles in Australia for some years.

Until now, that arrangement has been on non-equity basis, mostly related to financing of the Australian operation, but that might change, depending on the outcome of the administrator’s investigations.

WMC runs its bus and coach import business from a complex at Milperra, in Sydney’s west, where the buses are stored and prepped for sale through a chain of 13 dealerships – many of them owned by AHG – across five states of Australia.

AHG group executive for corporate communications David Christison told GoAuto today that he could not comment on the future of WMC, as that was up to the administrators.

“We are expecting an announcement by the administrators in due course,” he said.

All parties contacted by GoAuto suggested that the Higer brand in Australia would continue for the foreseeable future, and was not in immediate danger of closing.

WMC also once imported Chinese-built LDV and JAC vehicles, but LDV was transferred to another independent importer, Ateco Automotive, while JAC is currently dormant.

According to the ASIC notice, JAC Motors Pty Ltd also has also been placed in administration.

It is unclear how many Higer buses and coaches have been sold this year, as Higer sales are not reported in the official VFACTS sales data.

The model range currently covers seven models, from the 19-passenger Platinum to the 57-seat RoadBoss.

Unlike many Chinese brands, Higer has been relatively successful in convincing Australia fleets to consider its products, with experienced operators such as Murrays Coaches among clients.

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