More than $100 million worth of potential claims have been prevented and 150 jobs preserved after Roberts Co acquired five Victorian projects affected by the administration of fallen construction behemoth Probuild.
The sale sets in stone the tier one construction company's plans announced almost a month ago, giving Roberts and Co control of the projects Uno Melbourne, 500 Bourke St, 502 Albert St, Elizabeth North Stage 2, and a construction and fit-out for home-grown biotech multinational CSL (ASX: CSL).
The transaction was conducted by the Deloitte turnaround and restructuring team that was appointed as voluntary administrators for 18 separate Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO) Australia Group companies on 23 February.
While terms of the transaction are confidential, they provide for continued employment for more than 150 Probuild and Monaco Hickey head office and site employees, while also honouring the head building contract, subcontractor agreements and other project costs on these projects that were in place at the time Probuild and Monaco Hickey entered administration.
Deloitte said four of the projects have already seen construction restart since administrators were appointed, with the fifth expected to recommence shortly.
"In challenging circumstances, Roberts Co has worked quickly but diligently, to deliver a sale agreement that represents the best possible outcome for all parties concerned," voluntary administrator and Deloitte turnaround and restructuring partner, Jason Tracy, said.
"It’s the proverbial win-win outcome that has been a key focus since our appointment as administrators only five weeks ago.
"While numbers are to be finalised and reported to creditors at a later date, the agreement with Roberts Co saves over $100 million of potential creditor claims, and also avoids substantial liquated damages risks from ongoing project delays."
Tracy executed the agreement with other Deloitte administrators Sal Algeri, Matt Donnelly and David Orr.
"Over 150 people will keep their jobs, with their accumulated entitlements preserved and potential redundancy costs avoided. And importantly, more than 150 sub-contractors and consultants will be paid valid arrears and be able to get their people and equipment back to work immediately," Tracy said.
"We congratulate Roberts Co as the new owner of these assets, and thank the Probuild and Monaco Hickey leadership team and employees, unions, clients, subcontractors and the Victorian Building Authority for working together to get projects back up and running and in the hands of a well-resourced and respected construction company."
Roberts Co CEO Alison Mirams said the company was launched five years ago in NSW with a mission to "build a better way", and the team was now excited to carry this philosophy into the Victorian market.
"During this acquisition, we have worked with the clients to ensure all subcontractor retentions and bank guarantees are reinstated to ensure the ongoing viability of the subcontractors," Mirams said.
"I would like to thank Jason Tracy and his team at Deloitte, along with our team at Roberts Co and the leadership team at Probuild who have all contributed to this important acquisition. We look forward to successfully delivering the initial projects and continuing to grow the Victorian business."
Sal Algeri added that the administrators were incredibly proud of the achievement, "particularly in terms of the complexity of the businesses, everything that is at stake, and the speed in which it has been achieved".
"We still have a lot of work to do to maximise value and productive outcomes in the interests of creditors wherever possible, and look to minimise the Group’s exposure to contingent liabilities," Algeri said.
The agreement with Roberts Co comes after creditors last week endorsed a separate sale agreement with Perth-based SRG Global (ASX: SRG), which has acquired WBHOA’s West Australian WBHOI Infrastructure Pty Ltd business, and which has also been under the same voluntary administration.
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