17/04/2019 - 15:34

Liquidators appointed to Handle Property Group

17/04/2019 - 15:34

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The developer behind the Red Castle and Bottleyard apartments complexes has been forced into liquidation, the latest victim of difficult conditions in Western Australian property.

Liquidators appointed to Handle Property Group
Handle Property Group’s Red Castle Apartments was one of its most well-known projects. Photo: Handle Property Group

The developer behind the Red Castle and Bottleyard apartments complexes has been forced into liquidation, the latest victim of difficult conditions in Western Australian property.

DCS Advisory was appointed in late February by the Supreme Court of WA as liquidators of Greentop Nominees, which traded as Handle Property Group, after an application for the winding up of the company was lodged by Millbay Development Group Pty Ltd.

According to documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Millbay Development Group is an entity associated with former Handle Property Group chief operating officer Kevin Higgins.

Mr Higgins, who exited the developer in November 2017 after nearly seven years, declined to comment on the circumstances of the winding-up order when contacted by Business News.

ASIC documents show DCS Advisory invited creditors to provide formal proof of debts held by Handle Property Group in late March, with a deadline of submission passing on April 5.

DCS Advisory, a boutique insolvency firm based in West Perth, had not responded to inquiries from Business News at the time of publication.

Handle Property Group was established in 2007 by director Peter Burke, the son of former WA premier Brian Burke, and since that time developed more than 1,200 dwellings across more than 50 projects in Perth, from house and land packages in peripheral suburbs, to large-scale apartment developments in near-city locations.

The developer’s $72 million, 125-dwelling Bottleyard Apartments in Northbridge was one of its flagship projects, having won several Urban Development Institute of Australia WA awards for excellence.

However, in March last year Handle Property Group engaged Development Finance Partners to refinance the project’s debt capital structure, due to delays in pre-sale settlements.

Prior to refinancing, DFP said the project’s debt capital structure comprised a mix of senior and mezzanine financing supported by a high level of pre-sales.

Delays in obtaining finance by overseas purchasers, forced to explore alternatives following new regulatory restrictions on offshore property purchases, contributed to the need to refinance the project, DFP said.

Another high-profile project by Handle Property Group was the Red Castle Apartments development in Lathlain, a 141-apartment project completed midway through 2017.

Apartments were still available for sale at the Red Castle as recently as early March, according to a cached copy of Handle Property Group’s website, which is no longer online.

Business News understands Handle Property Group was also experiencing substantial difficulties in securing sales at its 600-lot Rosehill Waters housing estate in Guildford.

Industry sources say Handle Property Group was also heavily dependent on overseas capital, particularly from China, with the Chinese government’s restrictions on capital outflow implemented in late 2017 a heavy burden on the company.

Attempts by Business News to contact Chinese-owned investment, development and project management firm Osen Group, which describes itself on its website as a partner of Handle Property Group and lists Mr Burke as a director, were unsuccessful.

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