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"Complete bull....": Stella Group collapse denied  Apr 24, 2009

"Complete bull...." is how a spokesman for the Stella Group summed up reports that the global tourism company was in danger of collapse.

Media reports published yesterday claimed the group, which controls dozens of hotels including the BreakFree Resorts in Mooloolaba, Marcoola and Noosa, as well as travel agencies operating under the Harvey World Travel brand, was in financial trouble and on the brink of receivership.

The group also controls the Peppers resorts, retreats and hotels as well as the Mantra branded hotels and resorts, including three in Mooloolaba and one in Marcoola.

A Stella Group spokesman rejected the reports, saying they had "various factual inaccuracies".

The reports said that the group needed to offload part of its global empire to reduce a $900 million debt which was threatening to sink it.

It was claimed the management rights to 28 properties, including BreakFree Seamark on First in Mooloolaba, BreakFree Marcoola Beach, BreakFree Noosa International and BreakFree South Pacific in Noosa were on the market, with an Asian buyer already interested.

The reports blamed the supposed impending collapse on information that the $1.3 billion stake private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific and global investment bankers UBS put into Stella last year is now worth between $250 and $350 million.

It was claimed that UBS was advised to place the Stella Group into receivership or sell assets.

The Stella Group was in damage control yesterday.

PR consultants Cato Counsel, the same company that was retained by Pacific Brands, handled inquiries.

In a written statement, a spokesman said the group was ‚Äútrading as usual‚ÄĚ and rejected that any recommendation had been made to appoint receivers.

“We are working for the benefit of all suppliers, franchisees, customers and unit owners.

‚ÄúStella has a good working relationship with its banker UBS and has been working... with it on an appropriate and prudent long term capital structure for the business.‚ÄĚ

"Complete bull....": Stella Group collapse denied

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