High Court reporters
The appointment of an official liquidator to three companies in the SIAC construction group has been approved by the High Court.
On Friday, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore said it was appropriate to make an order winding up the firms, appointing insolvency practitioner David O’Connor of BDO as official liquidator.
Mr O’Connor was appointed provisional liquidator earlier this month when the two companies in the group petitioned for the winding up.
Those were two trading companies, SIAC Construction Ltd, which has a net liability of €12.3 million, and SIAC Roofing and Cladding Ltd, which had been profit making for several years, but is predicted to have losses of around €500,000 in 2023.
The group holding company, SIAC Holdings (Ireland) Ltd, while not a trading company, was also insolvent and the judge included it in the winding up order.
The company was majority owned by the Feighery family until 2014 when it went into examinership. The judge said it was “a sad day” to see a company, which we are all familiar with, being forced into liquidation.
The judge said the only matter of potential controversy in the winding up application was an initial objection by Tom Feighery, a creditor through his shareholding in a parent firm XTA Investments Ltd, to the appointment of Mr O’Connor as liquidator.
This had evaporated in the course of the hearing, the judge said, and as no other creditor having expressed concern he was satisfied Mr O’Connor was the appropriate person to appoint as official liquidator.
Earlier, Kelley Smith SC, for the petitioner, said following engagement with Ciaran Lewis SC, on behalf of the corporate entity for the Feigherys, the position over the appointment of Mr O’Connor had changed slightly.
Mr Lewis said in the light of a commitment by Mr O’Connor to establish an investigation and appoint a committee of inspection which will include his client, there was now no objection to the appointment of Mr O’Connor as official liquidator.
SIAC’s operations are in the building, civil engineering, roofing and cladding sectors, with the company having worked on many high profile building projects, including motorways.
The court heard last month that it claims it has experienced severe cash difficulties in recent years resulting in the companies becoming loss-making and insolvent.
Its difficulties included the negative impact of Covid-19 on the construction sector, significant increases in costs in labour and materials, insurance and bonding difficulties, as well as onerous conditions placed on those performing civil engineering projects for public bodies in the State.
The loss of senior key personnel in recent months had also had a negative impact on the companies, the court heard.
Ms Smith said on Friday that uncertainty about the companies’ ability to pay their debts had led to a loss of confidence among suppliers led to knock-on effects in terms of cash flow. If the companies continued to trade, the concern was that they could incur liabilities they could not meet, counsel said.
The court also heard last month that the companies accept staff could not be paid.
The group has assets worth some €11.2 million and the operating companies had been relying on financial support from its XTA parent.
The judge had previously directed the firms’ director to file a statement of affairs in relation to the roofing and construction firms. He also directed on Friday that a statement be provided in relation to the holding company.