Investment interest expressed in Siac as firm enters examinership

It has been reported that six parties have expressed an interest in investing in troubled building engineering giant Siac Construction and eight of its related companies, the High Court has heard.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly today confirmed Michael McAteer as examiner to the companies after saying he was satisfied proposals for a survival scheme surpassed the threshhold required for the court to exercise its discretion to appoint an examiner.

Mr McAteer, who was appointed interim examiner last month, now has 100 days to come up with a survival scheme but the court heard he hopes to hold a creditors’ meeting as soon as December 18th.

The court heard there were no objections to the examinership and the companies’ main bank, Bank of Ireland, had agreed to continue to provide capital funding during the examinership while their 250 employees had also expressed support. Between 20 and 30 letters of support for the companies had come from a number of Siac clients.

Siac has last June celebrated its 100th birthday, having survived the First World War, insurrection, civil war, the Second World War, and the “dreary days of the 50s” before it was “unfortunately brought to its knees by the financial collapse in this country in the last number of years”, Mr Justice Kelly said.

Despite maintaining profitability after the 2007 crash right up until 2011, it moved into a €4 million loss situation in 2012 and this was largely the result of the collapse in the domestic building industry, he said.

Siac then tried to diversify into Poland and it would not be a mid-description to say this was a disastrous venture, the judge said.

Siac has, with others, taken legal action in Poland arising from involvement in road contracts with claims worth an estimated ?113m, the court heard.

Mr Justice Kelly said the companies’ creditor banks, Bank of Ireland, KBC and Bank of Scotland, which were neutral on the examinership, were owed €40 million and needless to say, this was an extremely worrying time for all involved, including creditors and employees.

One positive feature of this case was the companies obligations to the Revenue were up to date and in fact were due payment from the taxman, he said. This was unusual feature of an examinership but it indicated a company that was well run, he said.

There had been six expressions of interest in investing received by the examiner. Between €5 million and €8 million, either as debt or equity, or a combination of both, is required and a number of the interested parties are aware that this is the level of investment that will be required, the judge said.

The judge also said the support of a number of clients of Siac was also an important feature of the proposed survival plan, in particular one from the National Roads Authority (NRA) which says Siac has tendered for two very large national road projects. The NRA had advised the company that should it exit examinership, it would be viable to assume that it would receive contract work for national roads, the judge added.

Since 2008, the turnover of Siac Construction Ltd has fallen from €265 million to €113 million, the directors said in their petition. Source: The Irish Times