20/01/2021 - 12:30

Agency Group administration on hold

20/01/2021 - 12:30


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Real estate firm The Agency Group Australia has taken its fight to stop the company from being placed in administration to the federal court.

Agency Group administration on hold
The Agency managing director Paul Niardone (left) and chief executive Matt Lahood.

Real estate firm The Agency Group Australia has taken its fight to stop the company from being placed in administration to the Federal Court, filing an interlocutory injunction to prevent administrators from taking action while the two parties resolve a debt dispute.

Yesterday, accounting firm BDO was appointed as voluntary administrators over a $385,000 debt the company allegedly owed to Magnolia Group, led by former Agency director Mitchell Atkins, which holds a 16.65 per cent stake in the company.

Magnolia Group, trading as MCL 105 Pty Ltd, said it had lost confidence in the company and its “unknown” financial position.

But The Agency was quick to reassure its 100 staff based in Western Australia that the company was solvent, with more than $27 million in cash and other assets.

This morning, lawyer Anthony Papamatheos, acting on behalf of The Agency managing director Paul Clement Niardone, proposed that the matter be set aside to deal with the contractual dispute over the debt owed, arguing that it was in the best interests of both parties.

Subsequently, he filed a suggested list of orders, including that the voluntary administrators be prevented from acting on behalf of MCL 105 and that The Agency Group pay $390,000 into the court within the next 48 hours.

Following a 30-minute adjournment, the parties returned and confirmed that they had agreed to the majority of orders, subject to minor amendments.

But MCL 105 lawyer Sebastian Hartford Davis opposed order six, which would require the purported administration to end at 4pm on February 1 if the debt had been repaid, arguing that the court did not have sufficient evidence of the company’s solvency.

Mr Papamatheos told the court that order six was non-negotiable, and was about providing the company with a degree of security.

He argued that the matter had left a “significant cloud” over The Agency, leaving directors in limbo and shareholders and customers concerned.

Justice Craig Colvin granted the injunction and moved to adjourn the matter to a case management hearing on February 1, at which time a decision will be made to either vary or discharge order six.

In a statement released on the ASX this afternoon, The Agency said the alleged appointment by MCL 105 was a “misguided attempt” to destabilise it and force the company to pay a "disputed" and "undeserved" fee.

The statement invited parties with a sufficient interest to apply to vary or discharge order six, which is currently in place.

The applications will be considered as part of the hearing.


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