24/05/2018 - 15:56

BGC up for sale

24/05/2018 - 15:56

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BGC Australia director Sam Buckeridge announced this afternoon that the sprawling property and construction empire built by his late father Len Buckeridge is being prepared for sale.

Sam Buckeridge addressing journalists today.

BGC Australia director Sam Buckeridge announced this afternoon that the sprawling property and construction empire built by his late father Len Buckeridge is being prepared for sale.

Sam Buckeridge hosted a media conference at 4pm, speaking in his capacity as an executor of his late father’s estate.

The low-profile Mr Buckeridge said a mediation process between family members had allowed for a sale of the business, which has annual revenue of more than $2 billion and more than 4,000 employees.

“During my father’s lifetime, he was the driving force in the business, and the key decision maker," he said.

"Unfortunately, the arrangements that he set to take effect on his passing made it difficult for the executors to fulfil his wishes and meet the diverse needs of 15 family members spread across Australia."

The family had spent three years working on an outcome.

“We’ve done this collectively, and we’ve agreed a number of amendments to our father’s will," Mr Buckeridge said.

He said a process was being put in place to realise value of the BGC assets.

"It will be a considered, informed, and methodical process that may take considerable time to complete," Mr Buckeridge said.

He added it would be business as usual for the operating businesses, and there would be no rush to finalise the sale.

His announcement comes four years after Len Buckeridge passed away at the age of 77, in March 2014.

Mr Buckeridge was considered one of WA's wealthiest people when he passed away, with an estimated fortune of $2 billion-plus.

Estimates of his wealth are based on sketchy information, as BGC has never released details of its earnings.

Ever since his passing, there has been regular speculation about which family members would gain control of the family business and the carve-up of the Buckeridge fortune.

BGC Australia has four directors, including Sam Buckeridge and his brother Andrew Buckeridge, who are believed to be closely aligned.

They were each bequeathed a 35 per cent stake in the group.

Their stepbrother, Julian Ambrose, who has held executive roles in the business for many years, is also a director.

Mr Ambrose is the son of Len Buckeridge’s second wife and widow, Siok Puay ‘Tootsie’ Koh, whose branch of the family was left a 10 per cent stake.

BGC’s fourth director is long-serving finance director Andrew Teo, who is not related.

His trusted position was reflected in Mr Teo being the only person named as a trustee of the five trusts established by Mr Buckeridge.

The private company also has three alternative directors, including well-known Perth lawyer and company director Ian Cochrane.

Len Buckeridge had six children and eight grandchildren, and the will also made provision for them.

His children Joshua, Rachel and Lise Buckeridge were bequeathed a combined 15 per cent of the estate.

Mr Buckeridge’s eight grandchildren were left a 5 per cent stake. 

Crucially, the inheritance was held as BGC shares under the control of various trustees until 2019.

Several members of Mr Buckeridge’s extended family commenced legal action since his passing.

Esperance Stephen and Alba Stephen, who are the children of Mr Buckeridge’s Sydney-based daughter Rachel, took legal action to secure their $90 million inheritance.

Their move was due to legal action instigated by another of Mr Buckeridge's daughters, Lise.

In addition, Ms Koh was believed to have commenced legal action seeking a larger share of the estate, and was understood to have received a one-off payout to replace an ongoing dividend entitlement.

Sam Buckeridge said today that a number of amendments to the will had been agreed upon, including further provisions for Ms Koh, the creation of a new holding trust to assist  in distributing the estate’s assets and the creation of individual testamentary trusts for Joshua, Lise and Rachel, and grand-daughters Esperance and Alba.

"It is the intention of the agreed amendments that individual family members are able to make independent decisions about their inheritance," he said.

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