Administrator offers hope for WBHO Infrastructure creditors

Administrator offers hope for WBHO Infrastructure creditors

At least one of the 18 businesses caught up in the collapse of construction giant WBHO Australia Group (WBHOA) could get a new lease of life with administrators recommending creditors accept a proposed Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) at a meeting scheduled for next week.

WBHO Infrastructure is among a suite of companies affected by the collapse of WBHOA, which owned by South African-based parent company Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO).

The company's administrators have recommended creditors accept a DOCA proposed by listed construction company SRG Global (ASX: SRG), although how many cents in the dollar they will receive is yet to be disclosed.

The move follows SRG’s planned acquisition of the Western Australian operations of WBHO Infrastructure for $15.2 million announced last week. The fate of most of the companies within the group, including construction giant Probuild, remains in the balance despite an announcement earlier this month that Sydney-based Roberts Co will acquire the majority of the collapsed company’s Victorian assets.

Administrators to WBHOA were appointed in February after WBHO pulled financial support for its Australian operations, citing the pandemic-induced pressures on the business for the crisis.

An update provided today by WBHOA’s joint voluntary administrator Matt Donnelly of Deloitte says a DOCA is in the best interest of creditors to WBHO Infrastructure. Donnelly says it will provide a ‘swift exit’ from external administration and most employees will hold their jobs with their entitlements protected.

A second company within the group, Carr Civil Contracting, is set to come out of administration after SRG also put up its hand to buy the business. With no realisable assets and no debts, the administrators have recommended an end to the administration.

A second creditors meeting for these two subsidiaries is planned for 30 March 2022 where their fate will be decided.

“This is an excellent outcome in the circumstances, and we believe the sale of the WBHO Infrastructure business to SRG Global is compelling,” says Donnelly.

“SRG is a well-established industry player, and the sale provides the highest and best value proposition for creditors based on the offers received, retains jobs and entitlements for the Western Australian employees, and provides certainty for WBHO Infrastructure’s suppliers and customers.”

Of the businesses in the WBHOA group, Probuild was one of the largest and most recognised brands, having been behind the construction of major builds in Australia including the fitout of the new Victoria Police Headquarters, the revitalisation of Queen and Collins in Melbourne’s CBD, and The Star’s suite tower for its property on the Gold Coast.

Prior to its collapse, Probuild had 19 projects in train across the country with 2,300 creditors, including debts of $14 million to 786 staff.

 

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