HAVE FREMANTLE RATEPAYERS SETTLED SIRONA CAPITAL’S DEBT TO BUILDERS COOPER & OXLEY?
In February this year the administrators for Perth builders Cooper and Oxley implemented legal action to recover a debt of $6.12m allegedly owed by Sirona Capital, the developers of Fremantle’s King’s Square.
Last month (May 2018) Sirona Capital’s Managing Director Mathew MacNeilly quietly announced the case was settled. Presumably the debt had been paid.
It’s reasonable conjecture to ask whether Fremantle’s councillors may have fallen for a well orchestrated smoke and mirrors trick.
Over a year ago Sirona Capital requested a twelve month extension to pay for one of several properties purchased from Fremantle ratepayers’ assets.
The 12 month deferred payment of $6.65m was due on May 9th 2018. It is for Sirona Capital’s acquisition of the Spicer site, one of a number of assets sold to the developer by council but not yet paid for.
On February 8th this year journalists Kim MacDonald and Grant Taylor reported in Perth Now that a Supreme Court writ had been issued against Sirona Capital.
MacDonald and Taylor outlined the writ claimed Sirona Capital’s directors and other executives had acted “fraudulently”, “negligently” and made “misrepresentations” related to the conversion of a $5m loan into equity.
Cooper and Oxley’s administrators were seeking $5 million plus 15% interest on that sum since late 2011, about $1.2 million, plus unspecified damages.
WERE, OR ARE, SIRONA SOLVENT?
If Sirona Capital did pay Cooper and Oxley Councillors must now ask why did they not pay the $6.65m debt to ratepayers first?
If they did not pay money to Cooper and Oxley, nor to Fremantle the question is: “Were, or are, Sirona Capital solvent?”
If on May 9th, 2018, Sirona could not pay their debt to Fremantle City Council and/or to Cooper and Oxley, they may have been insolvent, had a legal obligation to stop trading immediately, or seek settlement with creditors. It appears they did the latter when asking for extended time to pay Fremantle Council.
IS THIS A TIMELINE OF INTRIGUE WORTHY OF WA INC?
SIRONA CAPITAL : PAYMENT TO COUNCIL FOR $6.65M DEFERRED
The new due date for payment of the Spicer Site was 9th May 2018.
BUILDERS COOPER AND OXLEY CALL IN ADMINISTRATORS
7th FEBRUARY 2018
WRIT ISSUED AGAINST SIRONA CAPITAL FOR $6.12m
It was reported the administrator of Cooper & Oxley , Cameron Shaw of accountants Hall Chadwick, issued writs against Sirona Capital for $6.12m.
11th APRIL 2018
SIRONA CAPITAL SEEK ADDITIONAL EXTENSION FOR PAYMENT OF THE SPICER SITE : GRANTED BY COUNCIL
Council members unanimously approved a proposal by Mayor Pettitt and seconded by Cr Hume that Sirona Capital be granted an additional 6 months to pay for the Spicer site.
Council minutes record:
“That Council authorise the Chief Executive Officer authority to approve extension of the settlement date for the former Spicer property for a period up to 30 September, 2018 and amend the Project Development Deed in accordance with this extension.”
This was probably the earliest possible date the application for an extension could have been put before full council since the writ was issued.
19th APRIL 2018
ACTION DROPPED : WRIT ‘SETTLED’
Immediately after gaining the extension Matthew McNeilly, Sirona Capital’s Managing Director, announced action by the Cooper and Oxley administrators has been withdrawn. Had $6.12m claim has been paid? McNeill described it as ‘settled’.
It is reasonable supposition that the $6.65m for the May 9th payment for the Spicer site may have been used to settle the debt claimed by Cooper and Oxley’s administrators.
17th MAY 2018
SIRONA CAPITAL ANNOUNCE $190m FINANCIAL PACKAGE FOR KINGS SQUARE PROJECT
Only four weeks after the Cooper and Oxley case was settled McNeilly announced $190m funding for the KSP. The company had secured the funding from First State Super (FSS) and Altis Property partners. FSS manage the superannuation funds of 800,000 public service employees. McNeill claimed banks had ‘lost out’ on the chance to fund the King’s Square project.
A $190m financial package is not achieved overnight. Sirona Capital must have been aware they had finance arranged, or were sure of getting it, before they asked for additional time to pay for the Spicer site.
Fremantle’s Councillors may have fallen for a well planned financial manoeuvre.
SIRONA CAPITAL ARE ‘CASHED UP’ BUT FREMANTLE’S ECONOMY HAS COLLAPSED
Observers are aware that Sirona had difficulty gaining financial backing from investors for the King’s Square redevelopment.
There are close to 130 empty or demolished retail premises in Fremantle. That includes shops demolished to make way for the shelved Hilton Hotel development; the Woolworth’s centre next to St Patrick’s Basilica; shops empty in arcades including the Coles Woolstore centre; shops under redevelopment by Sirona Capital and about 85 visually empty premises in the CBD.
Faced with that scenario it is not surprising investors display caution before funding the construction of retail premises which form a substantial part of the King’s Square Plan.
Fremantle cannot survive on the smell of coffee beans, hop extracts and festivals. The city is now ranked among the least financially secure shires in Western Australia. In short, the city’s economy has collapsed.
COUNCIL LOSING MINIMUM OF $1,000,000 BANK INTEREST
Councillors must demand Sirona Capital settle for their purchase of ratepayers’ assets. They owe $6.65m for the Spicer site alone. They could be earning considerable interest on money which is lost to the city and could be in excess of $1,000,000.
To cover Sirona’s Capital’s non payment for a number of assets the City’s financial managers have removed $12.65m from the reserve fund, thus losing interest on that deposit. Over 3-4 years that could amount to interest of $3,000,000. The council have described to cost as insignificant.
Fremantle’s ratepayers – the real financial lifeblood of the city – must ask for an independent inquiry into the Kings Square Plan which has been shrouded by secrecy and spin.