Abe Goldberg, Polish-born Australian executive, Died at 87

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Abraham Goldberg was born on June 23, 1929, and died on on July 24, 2016.

He was a Polish-born Jewish Australian businessman.

His Linter Group of companies grew to be a major textile and clothing manufacturing group in the 1980s, before collapsing under a mountain of debt.

His family had been in the textiles business in Garwolin in Poland and, being Jewish, when the Nazis invaded in World War II they were sent to a ghetto, but escaped by paying a farmer to hide them in a cowshed for a year and a half.

In 1948, when the war was over they emigrated to Australia and set up in business in Melbourne.

He found the ANZ Bank a ready lender in those days.

And the bank had quite deliberately cultivated Melbourne’s Jewish community, believing them to be hard working and good credit risks.

Moving on with finance Goldberg got started in the 1970s doing mergers and deals in the textile business.

He floated his Linter Group on the Australian Stock Exchange in March 1985, helped by a loose group of men known as the AFP boys (for their associations with the Australian Farming Property company).

Over the period of the next two years Linter continually changed shape and variously owned or controlled many famous Australian brands like King Gee, Speedos, Stubbies and Pelaco.

However, the stock market crash of 1987 hit the deal-making hard, but over the next few years in fact allowed Goldberg to take most of his empire private, funded by debt.

His bankers remained quite happy on his 60th birthday in September 1989, but rumors started doing the rounds later that year they appointed Lindsay Maxsted of KPMG to look over the books.

Maxsted findings in early 1990 was an enormously complex web of inter-company relationships, and total liabilities of some $1700m, which was far more than anyone knew and which exceeded estimated assets by at least $425m.

He thought Goldberg had probably been technically insolvent ever since the stock market crash of 1987.

Also the assets in liquidation didn’t realize their initial estimates and the shortfall blew out to $750m.

Abe Goldberg passed away at 85 years old.

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