08/02/2018 - 14:05

Cooper & Oxley into administration

08/02/2018 - 14:05

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Cooper & Oxley Builders has today gone into voluntary administration, but only after taking legal action to try and retrieve a $5 million investment in the Kings Square project in Fremantle.

The 500 Hay St project in Subiaco is Cooper & Oxley’s single largest project. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Cooper & Oxley Builders has today gone into voluntary administration, but only after taking legal action to try and retrieve a $5 million investment in the Kings Square project in Fremantle.

Richard Albarran and Cameron Shaw from Hall Chadwick WA have been appointed as administrators of the construction company.

This followed the company’s shock announcement on Sunday it was halting work on all its projects because it could not pay its accounts.

The Jolimont-based company, owned by the family of long-serving managing director George Hampel, was ranked in the BNiQ Search Engine as the 10th largest construction company in Western Australia.

Its single largest project was the $100 million Subi XO development in Subiaco.

Earlier today, property developer Sirona Capital strongly criticised a $5 million-plus legal claim by Cooper & Oxley.

The construction company is an investor in Newman Court Unit Trust, which is the Sirona-led developer behind the $220 million Kings Square project.

It has been trying to sell its $5 million equity investment in the project and recently launched Supreme Court action seeking repayment, plus interest of up to $1.5 million.

Sirona managing director Matthew McNeilly said there were substantial inaccuracies and rewriting of history in Cooper & Oxley’s writ.

“This investment cannot be construed to be a loan,” Mr McNeilly said.

“Cooper & Oxley is a sophisticated wholesale investor and are aware that real estate equity investments of this type can be, at times, illiquid.”

He said Sirona Capital had been attempting to release Cooper & Oxley’s investment by selling its units in the investment trust.

“This legal action may undermine the ability to achieve that outcome,” Mr McNeilly said.

He said Sirona was being drawn into Cooper & Oxley’s financial issues when it was widely known throughout the industry that its problems were associated with the Subi XO project.

Cooper & Oxley initially made a loan to the Kings Square project but this was converted to equity in 2011.

Mr McNeilly said Sirona had worked closely with Cooper & Oxley in early stages of the project and had invited the firm to submit a price for construction, but opted to proceed with a tender.

“They were among several firms who tendered for the construction contract for Kings Square,” he said.

“Their tender was unsuccessful.

“Tenders were assessed on several criteria including price, expertise, capability and financial stability.”

The contract was awarded to ProBuild, which has mobilised on site.

Mr McNeilly said significant work has been undertaken to prepare the former Myer building and the Queensgate building for demolition works, which had recently begun.

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