Business Report on Sunday
7 March 1999
Women Tackle Liquidation
Mean and lean describes Durban Attorneys Susan Abro and Betsie Rowe, who will take on the traditionally male-dominated insolvency industry this month when they launch their company Sabra Liquidators.
This foray into liquidations makes Abro and Rowe the only female liquidators operating in KwaZulu-Natal. They are not blind to the difficulties they face in breaking into this tightly held sector of business. "It is a very closed shop and we are aware that we are about to butt our heads against the glass ceiling."
It is a tough business and creditors need a tough team on their side. In cases of bankruptcy, there is a tendency to hide assets from creditors and that is where ruthless inquiry comes in. With Abro an experienced litigation attorney and Rowe a capable administrator, they have what it takes.
The women decided to start the business in response to creditors' frustrations and dissatisfaction with poor service from liquidators. "There is always a flurry of activity when a liquidation order is granted, then it goes to bed and creditors can wait for years before they hear from the liquidators. We will put the creditors first," says Abro.
Abro has practised law for nine years and Rowe, with 18 years under her belt, has extensive experience in the administration of deceased estates and property. The liquidation business has not always enjoyed a positive reputation. In recent years a move by the Association of Insolvency Practitioners of Southern Africa has attempted to regulate the industry by introducing a code of ethics.
"We are sure that creditors will feel comfortable knowing we have the relevant legal background and the necessary infrastructure to deal efficiently with their claims," the two women say. But neither are giving up their private practices. "We will not be wearing our lawyer hats when we do liquidations."
After all is said and done in law, Rowe turns her attention to flowers as a partner in a rose-growing operation and retail nursery.
Abro makes herself heard on many committees, including the council of the Natal Law Society and the board of the Cancer Association.
Article by Lesley van Duffelen