The High Court has appointed a liquidator to two constructions firms in the Sammon group
THE High Court has appointed a liquidator to two constructions firms in the Sammon group after it was unable to resume work on several school building projects.
The Co Kildare based group employs approximately 200 people directly and many more subcontractors indirectly. Last week, the group was excluded from the tender process for the new €20m Coláiste Chiaráin building in Croom, a tender it was on course to win.
In April three companies within the group, which got into difficulty over the devastating collapse of UK construction giant Carillion, entered into examinership.
However the examiner Mr Michael McAteer is no longer able to continue with the examinership process for two of those companies Sammon Contracting Ireland Ltd and Sammon Contracting Group Ltd.
The group, which was owed some €8m by Carillion, was part a significant joint venture with the UK firm and a Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIFCO) to build five schools and Institute of Further Education.
Work on that contract, known as the SB 5 contract, ceased following Carillion’s collapse earlier this year.
The matter came before Mr Justice Robewrt Haughton at the High Court this Tuesday, who following an application by the examiner Mr Michael McAteer, made orders winding up Sammon Contracting Ireland and Sammon Contracting Group.
In a sworn statement Mr McAteer said he was unable to formulate proposals for a scheme of arrangement that if approved by the High Court would allow the companies to survive.
He said that getting works restarted on the SB5 contract, by securing the tender to recommence those works, was the key to ensuring the construction firm’s survival and return to profitability.
Mr McAteer said that he held talks with key stakeholders, including the banks.
He said that following a communication with DIFCO, no decision has been made to award the contract to finish off the SB5 project.
This delay he said has undermined confidence in Sammon and has made it more difficult to attract investment.
Other monies Sammon are owed have not been paid he said.
Terminations notices have been served on Sammon in relation to two other projects it had been involved with, Mr McAteer added.
As a result, Mr McAteer said Sammon lacks funds to meet its liabilities to Revenue and he could not continue with the examinership.
Mr Stephen Tennant, also of Grant Thornton, will act as liquidator to the two companies.
When the company applied for an examiner the court heard that SCIL had a deficit of €11m as a going concern.
However, in the event of it being wound up that deficit increases to €21m.
Mr McAteer will continue to act as examiner for a third company within the group Miceal Sammon Woodcraft Ltd, which has 22 employees.
A creditors meeting in respect of that firm is due to take place in respect of that firm later this month.
The Sammon group had been building schools in Carlow, Kells, Co Meath, Wexford and two in Bray Co Wicklow.
Other separate projects the group had been working on include the Maynooth Educational Campus, plus projects in Cork, Shannon Airport, Waterford and Dublin.
When seeking the appointment of an examiner Ross Gorman Bl for the group said it was hired to build five schools and the Institute for education by an SPV that included Carillion known as ‘Inspired Spaces’.
That contract was worth approximately €87m to the group, counsel said.
His client was paid on a monthly basis after works commenced in 2016.
However the collapse of Carillion with debts of over £1.5Bn has had “a devastating and immediate impact” on the companies, counsel said.
Payments from the SPV to the Sammon companies ceased last December, counsel said adding it was owed €8m by the SPV.
As a result, the group was unable to pay its suppliers and subcontractors working on those projects.
The impact of Carillion had contaminated the group’s other projects, the court also heard.