Ford’s Smiths auctions have sold out after being held up by the government.
The auction house in New South Wales, Australia, was auctioned off in a controversial deal that saw the company take a 50 per cent stake in the auction house and put $6 million into the coffers of the Australian Government.
Ford’s auction of the auction houses, the Smith Family, was also sold to a consortium of investors, including Australian billionaire Peter O’Brien, who bought the business for $4.9 billion.
In a statement, Ford said the sale “would have been very difficult for Ford to complete, had the government not intervened to stop the sale”.
“Ford has always supported the Australian government’s efforts to support our country’s auction process, and this was no exception,” the company said.
“In fact, the government had the opportunity to sell the auction to Ford and its partners in a way that would have benefited all stakeholders, including the Government, while protecting our national interest.”
Ford said it has “no current plans” to reopen the auction.
But the auction was “stalled” for more than two years, with the auctioneer’s contract ending in June 2020, the ABC reported.
Smiths auctioneer Steve Brown, who was the original auctioneer for the auction, said the auction could not be completed.
He said the company was “not sure” when it would reopen.
Auctioneer Steve Trewhella said there were a lot of hurdles to getting the auction done.
“(The government) had to get in, and it’s just one of those things that’s just so difficult for the country to get through,” he said.
“And we’re just not sure when that’s going to be done.”
Ford will now “consider” whether to resume the auction of its remaining auctions.
Earlier, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced he had accepted the offer from Peter Orenstein, who will now be the sole owner of the Smith family company.
It comes after the Government offered $6.5 billion to help the company recover from the Smith’s auction, which was held in 2015.
Mr Turnbull said the government was committed to supporting Australian industry and innovation.
Orenstein’s company, Smith Group, will now take over the Smith auctions, and Ford will continue to have an auction in Australia.
Australia is the only country in the world where the auction has not been held since Ford’s sale.
At the time of the sale, the company had $6 billion in revenue.
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