Ralan creditors vote in favour of O'Dwyer's mystery Gold Coast development

Written on the 17 December 2019 by David Simmons

Ralan creditors vote in favour of O'Dwyer's mystery Gold Coast development

William O'Dwyer, the sole director of collapsed property developer Ralan Group appears to have mostly got his way at a creditor meeting this afternoon.

This afternoon's gathering of irate creditors was O'Dwyer's (pictured right) last opportunity to help claw back cash for unsecured creditors, who were otherwise unlikely to recoup any money if the entire company fell into liquidation.

The creditors had the option of either liquidating Ralan entirely or accepting O'Dwyer's mysterious deeds of company arrangement (DOCA).

The creditors voted in favour of liquidating the Arncliffe, NSW-based developments, but against liquidating the various Gold Coast companies.

This means the Arncliffe company (Ralan Arncliffe Pty Ltd) is in liquidation, as well as all of the other remaining 50 entities in the group.

But the DOCA for the Gold Coast companies is expected to go ahead; these companies now have 16 days to sign the DOCA giving effect to the outcome of today's vote.

The details of the Gold Coast DOCA remain unclear. Until now, O'Dwyer has only referred to the proposed developer of the DOCA as 'Mr X', and the location and details of the Gold Coast development remain ambiguous too.

Details also remain uncertain around the discount mechanisms for Ralan creditors to buy into the DOCA and secure new units at a cheaper price.

Additionally, just because the DOCA has been given the green light there is absolutely no requirement that creditors even have to buy into this new mystery development.

In the creditor vote, the majority were in favour of the DOCA and not liquidating six of the seven Gold Coast entities.

However for one of the businesses Ralan Paradise No 2, there was a split vote, meaning meeting chairman Said Jahani had to cast his deciding vote.

Jahani says when casting his vote this afternoon he did not want to stand in favour of the DOCA as he did not consider it to be in the best interests of shareholders, but his hand was forced.

"The Gold Coast entities all needed to vote in favour of the DOCA for it to proceed," says Jahani, who is also national managing partner at Grant Thornton.

"Regardless of the case we made for liquidation it is the clear wish of the majority of creditors in these entities to proceed with the proposed DOCA.

"To allow this to happen, and in the knowledge that the creditors of the entity with the split vote will be no worse off, I cast my vote in favour of the DOCA for this single entity with the split vote," he says. 

Jahani says today's outcome is in the best interests of creditors.

"Through our investigation it has become abundantly clear that Ralan has been unable to pay its creditors for some time," says Jahani, referencing the group's scathing report into the property developer's downfall.

"By liquidating the majority of companies in the Group, we can attempt to recoup as much as possible for creditors' based on the potential actions available to a liquidator pursuant to the Corporations Act."

Grant Thronton will be the liquidator of the 51 companies entering into liquidation and the deed administrators of the seven entities that passed the DOCA on the Gold Coast.

ASIC, who received Grant Thornton's report, is still assessing the next steps it might take in terms of disciplinary action against Ralan's sole director O'Dwyer.

Today's vote follows the widely publicised demise of the New South Wales based property developer in August this year, leaving key builds in the lurch.

The group's major projects included the Ruby Collection on the Gold Coast, described as offering "sophisticated indulgence and cutting-edge designed one, two and three-bedroom apartments, villas and sky suites".

At the time of collapse Ralan had over 3,000 residential units in the construction or pre-construction stage, as well as operating assets comprising over 600 units.

In early December Grant Thornton released its review into the property developer, which revealed that Ralan had been in insolvent since at least June 2014.

The administrator was not optimistic about the chances of recovering money for most of the indebted creditors, with Grant Thornton estimating nil to two cents in the dollar would be recoverable for most creditors.

Most of the secured creditors will be able to get their money back via the sale of Ralan's assets including the Paradise Resort Hotel (the future site of the remaining Ruby Collection), land at Budds Beach (the future site of the Sapphire Development), and Ralan Arncliffe (a partially completed residential and commercial development in Sydney).

The administrators also found evidence that O'Dwyer allegedly breached a number of sections of the Corporations Act.

O'Dwyer was particularly condemned by creditors once it was revealed that he withdrew millions of dollars for a variety of purposes including purchasing $1.7 million of Bitcoin.

Other eye-watering purchases include $300,000 on school and university fees, $2.7 million on American Express charges relating to holidays and clothes, and $4 million to buy a two-bedroom unit in Bondi Beach and a semi-detached house in North Bondi.

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Author: David Simmons

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