September 2018 Business Insolvency and Turnaround News Digest

01 October 2018

The following are summaries of media stories related to business turnaround and insolvency in Australia during September 2018.


Property and Construction

Canberra clan accused of dodgy cash and tax dealings

29 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “it hasn’t been a happy couple of years for a Canberra clan. On Friday Isaac Struss told a Federal Court examination that he was a simple carpenter from Canberra, who sold his construction business which he ran with his cousin Tristan Waters to Waters’ mother in 2016 because it was all too stressful for the tradesman.”

Family in decade-long feud with Westpac over bungled $800,000 construction loan

28 September 2018 reports that “the Lowthers never could have imagined their lives would end up like this - battling their bank for more than a decade over a payment bungle, stuck with an enormous loan and having their property repossessed.”

Builders wanted to restore old council building in CBD

27 September 2018

Queensland Times reports that “..its debt and existing cash reserves and had engaged external consultants to advise on the redevelopment strategy for the CBD.”

August Towers bankrupt CEG penthouse $6 million

18 September 2018

The Advertiser reports “what promises to be one of Adelaide's most spectacular apartments will hit the market next year with a price tag around the $6 million mark.”

Voluntary Administration Process Commences for Sommer & Staff Constructions

17 September 2018

Mirage News reports that “the Administration of Sommer & Staff Constructions is due to the suspension of its builders licence as a result of experiencing difficulties on a building contract in the West End of Brisbane where sub-contractors are owed approximately $2.7M.”

Gold Coast builder banned from holding licence

17 September 2018

Gold Coast Bulletin reports that “A Gold Coast builder, whose latest error involved breaching his revenue limit by more than three times, has been permanently banned from holding a licence.”                     

Metro Builders collapse: Bleak news for creditors owed $2.4 million

14 September 2018

Courier Mail reports that “the liquidator of a failed Queensland building company has released its report, and it’s not good news for the company’s 138 unsecured creditors who are owed a huge chunk of its $2.4 million debts.”

Unsecured creditors likely to get nothing from liquidation of construction company York Civil

10 September 2018

ABC News reports that “unsecured creditors of construction company York Civil are unlikely to see any returns from the business. Creditors voted unanimously to liquidate the company at its second creditors' meeting on Monday afternoon.”

Residents furious after builder being pursued over combustible cladding goes into administration

8 September 2018

ABC News reports that “residents in apartments bound in combustible cladding fear they will have no option but to pay millions of dollars to make their homes safe again, after construction company Hickory placed its subsidiary, H Buildings, into voluntary administration.”


HFW appeal win "significant" for Australian insolvency cases

25 September 2018

Australasian Lawyer reports that “HFW has won an appeal against a Supreme Court ruling with “significant implications” for insolvency proceedings in Australia. The firm helped Rio Tinto subsidiary Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd overturn a Supreme Court decision that Hamersley could not set off its claims against Forge Group Power Pty Ltd.”

Queensland Nickel judge John Bond recuses himself

17 September 2018

The Australian reports that “a Supreme Court judge has recused himself from the massive legal fight between Clive Palmer and Queensland Nickel’s liquidators, but rejected arguments from the former MP that he had shown “actual bias”.”



Darby’s Fresh Bake closes its doors, leaving 105 employees without jobs ahead of “likely” liquidation

25 September 2018

SmartCompany reports that “more than 100 employees have been left without jobs after food business Darby’s Fresh Bake was forced to close its 27 stores in New South Wales yesterday afternoon.”

Spring Gully brings back old favourite relishes and pickles after repaying debt

18 September 2018

The Advertiser reports that “months after getting itself out of a debt pickle, SA’s much-loved 72-year-old food producer Spring Gully Foods has put a fresh twist on most of its old favourites.”

Catch Group eyes Toys ‘R’ Us remnants

14 September 2018

The Australian reports that “online retailing outlet Catch Group is pressing on with its plans to float by the end of the year and is looking at part of the Toys ‘R’ Us business, which has fallen into administration.”

SumoSalad gets fresh start after voluntary administration

13 September 2018

Inside Retail reports that “Luke Baylis is back in charge at SumoSalad, heading up the healthy fast food chain after putting the business into voluntary administration in July this year.”

Tasman Butchers, Victoria’s largest independent butcher, falls into voluntary administration

11 September 2018

SmartCompany reports that “Victoria’s largest independent butcher, Tasman Market Fresh Meats Pty Ltd, has fallen into voluntary administration. An urgent sale process is now underway, while administrators said they would continue to trade the company’s network of 17 stores in Melbourne and regional Victoria in the interim.”

Dairy Bell ice-cream maker Bon Appetit Australia collapses with over $1 million owed to creditors

7 September 2018

SmartCompany reports that “local Aussie ice-cream maker Bon Appetit Australia has entered voluntary administration after ongoing issues with the business, with creditors reportedly owed over $1 million.”

Oroton to enter apparel market

5 September 2018

Inside Retail reports that “accessories retailer Oroton is entering the apparel market and expanding its jewellery range in an effort to turn around the company’s fortunes.”

Batting on: Liquidators have Spartan on the back foot

5 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “six years after bursting onto the scene, parts of the Spartan empire are in financial strife. While the Spartan group is mulling a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange, the company’s wholesale arm is beset with debts.” BRI Ferrier’s Peter Krejci and David Coyne were appointed Liquidators of the Company on 23 May 2018.

Gerry Harvey's 2018: more debt, worthless bull sperm

3 September 2018

The Australian Financial Review reports that “"They're all mad," Gerry Harvey said of his fleeing institutional investors in February. "If the share price goes down to $4 then sell your house. Sell your boat, sell your car, sell your house, buy Harvey Norman shares."

Tourism and Hospitality

Red Door Bakery and Croydon Social Go Into Liquidation

19 September 2018

Broadsheet Adelaide reports that “inner-west favourites Red Door Bakery and Croydon Social have closed. Owners Emma and Gareth Grierson took to Facebook on Wednesday to announce the news.”

Mad Mex on the market as franchise seeks expansion

18 September 2018

The Australian reports that “fast-food chain Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill has been put on the market through Allunga Advisory as businesses operating under the franchise model fight to gain more scale.”

Foodora to fight alleged unfair dismissal case

12 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Foodora will continue to fight an alleged unfair dismissal case after Australian tax authorities classified the company's food delivery riders as employees instead of independent contractors.”


Business elite hit by collapse of tech startup Fulcrum

27 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Fulcrum Hub was a tech startup with almost no public profile, but it was making waves with the right people as the year began. A who’s who of the business world were lining up to invest in the data analytics provider which was confidently talking of an ASX float before year’s end.”

Hooked on a Big Un: How the listed tech company went from all-star to administration in less than a year

24 September 2018

SmartCompany reports that “while it appeared to be one of 2017’s biggest share market success stories, the downfall of SME-focused video marketing company Big Un was swift and troubled, with administrators recommending last week the company be wound up as debts will likely go unpaid.”

Melbourne NBN reseller Telecube shuts doors with $1.68m debt

12 September 2018

CRN reports that “Melbourne NBN reseller Telecube has gone under after nine years in business, with $1.68 million still owed to creditors. Telecube launched in 2009, occupying a space in Melbourne's Docklands and offering NBN and voice services.”


German-based investment fund takes over yacht-builders Bavaria

21 September 2018

Newcastle Herald reports that “a German-based investment fund will take over high-profile yacht builders Bavaria.”

Linchpin funded advice business in liquidation

19 September 2018

IFA reports that “a Sydney-based financial advice business operating under the AFSL of Beacon’s Financial Link Group has collapsed with over $600,000 owed to unsecured creditors.”

WA economy improving but weak spots persist, RBA board told

18 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “WA's economy is improving but the housing market is still weak, the Reserve Bank of Australia has heard.”

Small business

Warning to SMEs as house prices drop

21 September 2018

Australian Broker reports that “the decline in property values could create problems for small and medium businesses in Australia, says a specialist insolvency and business recovery practice.”

Falling home prices risky for small businesses

20 September 2018 reports that “falling real estate prices have endangered small business owners who used their homes as guarantees on business loans, an insolvency group has warned.”

'People are crying to me on the phone': Taxi owners face bankruptcy

19 September 2018

The Canberra Times reports that “Canberra's taxi plate owners are facing potential bankruptcy as the ACT government looks to increase the territory regulated taxi plate cap by almost 40 per cent, to 500, a move that could further devastate the local industry.”

Private equity fund buys Bavaria

17 September 2018

Marine Business reports that “German yacht builder Bavaria Yachtbau has been bought out of administration by a private equity fund based in Berlin. The manufacturer went into voluntary administration earlier this year and has since been looking for new backers.”

Adelaide Central Electrical owed employees more than $2m in entitlements at time of its collapse

14 September 2018

The Advertiser reports that “Failed contractor Adelaide Central Electrical owed employees more than $2 million at the time of its collapse, it has been revealed, including close to $700,000 in unpaid super dating back as far as 2014. BRI Ferrier's Stuart Otway and Alan Scott were appointed Liquidators of the Company on 10 September 2018.

Coffee pod company iCapsulate collapses into administration after being offered biggest ever Shark Tank deal

13 September 2018

SmartCompany reports that “a company that once received the biggest ever deal on the Australian edition of Shark Tank, but was marred by controversy in the months after the show aired, has fallen into voluntary administration.”

Purple Press in liquidation

10 September 2018

ProPrint reports that “Victorian printer Purple Press, owned by Cliff Royle, is going into liquidation with further details of what is happening to its staff or equipment being unclear.”


Philip Whiteman tip to avoid probe in winding-up

25 September 2018

The Australian reports that “alleged large-scale phoenix scheme operator Philip Whiteman told a client to appoint high-profile liquidator Glenn Crisp, Partner of Jirsch Sutherland’s Melbourne office to wind up a company because the process would be a “formality” and no investigation would be held, a court has heard.”

O'Dwyer seeks advice on casual worker 'double-dipping' decision

14 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “the federal government is seeking urgent legal advice on a landmark court decision to grant a casual truck driver annual leave, as an industry lobby group warned employers could be left with a back-pay bill of up to $8 billion.”

Salim Mehajer’s ex-wife bankrupt owing $2m

12 September 2018

The Australian reports that “the former wife of Salim Mehajer has bankrupted herself over $2.15 million in debts owed by a string of the imprisoned property developer’s companies.”

Ex-ATSIC chief Geoff Clark and family could face more than 80 fraud charges

11 September 2018

The Australian reports that “a high-stakes fraud case against Geoff Clark will allege serious criminal conduct stretching back to his time as chairman of the powerful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, formerly the peak governing body for indigenous Australia.”

Start-ups not accessing director safe harbour bankruptcy laws

3 September 2018

The Australian Financial Review reports that “start-ups that are most in need of government safe harbour laws to protect directors of struggling companies from bankruptcy liabilities, are failing to take up the option, locked out thanks to high advisory costs and tax debts.”

Not for profit

Embattled charity FSG Australia enters liquidation owing $25 million

6 August 2018

The Gold Coast Bulletin reports that “disgraced Gold Coast disability charity FSG (Freedom, Social Justice, Growth) Australia has entered liquidation and the amount they owe creditors is eye-watering, despite them receiving up to $60 million a year of taxpayer’s money.”


Malek Fahd to stay open after $19 million government funding restored

10 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Malek Fahd Islamic School in western Sydney has had its federal funding restored after a series of drawn-out legal battles with federal and NSW governments and its founding organisation nearly led to the school closing its doors on two occasions.”

Primary Industry

Failed Harvey Norman dairy venture may have traded while insolvent

26 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey has reached an agreement with the creditors of its failed dairy investment, Coomboona Holdings, that will avoid liquidation and any further questions about whether the company traded while insolvent.”

Bill Tatt: drought assistance may be doing harm to rural businesses

14 September 2018

Western Magazine reports that “an indication of the tough trading times facing the red meat industry is the recent collapse of Tasman Market Fresh Meat. The organisation had 17 “warehouse meat style retail outlets” in Melbourne and regional Victoria and have now gone into voluntary administration.”

Court ‘sideshows’ add some spice to looming Quintis sale

8 September 2018

The West Australian reports that “Quintis is being pulled towards its sale and recapitalisation against a background of court confrontations involving receivers, dissident growers and the company’s former chief executive Frank Wilson.”


James Shipton outlines ASIC’s new game plan

8 September 2018

The Australian reports that “new probes of corporate governance at the big end of town, cryptocurrencies and the risks of climate change are among priorities set out by new Australian Securities & Investments Commission chairman James Shipton in his first corporate plan.”


Balmain stave off voluntary administration, but fight is far from over

13 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “Balmain Tigers have demonstrated their traditional fighting spirit, staving off voluntary administration by negotiating a significant financial contribution from Heworth Pty Ltd, the developer who took control of their Rozelle site 18 months ago.”

WAFL: WA Football Commission set to appoint interim West Perth board while coach Bill Monaghan keen for new contract

3 September 2018

Joondalup Times reports that “the WA Football Commission is set to appoint an interim West Perth board whose first job is likely to be offering coach Bill Monaghan a new contract.”

Not For Profit

Pilbara’s debt-laden Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation saved from liquidation with restructure plan

21 September 2018

The West Australian reports that “an asset-rich Pilbara Aboriginal community organisation $5.5 million in debt has been saved from liquidation under a restructuring plan. Creditors this month voted in favour of administrators Cor Cordis segregating and selling off properties owned by the Roebourne-based Ngarluma Yindjibarndi Foundation.”


North America


Ten years after the GFC, Lehman zombie making lawyers rich

15 September 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reports: “On September 15, 2008, Lehman declared bankruptcy. Following its collapse, the Company was left to die in the dust, largely unmourned. But somehow its cadaver continues to drift about the financial landscape, still paying big lawyers, still winning cases.”



VLM in liquidation

4 September 2018

MICE BTM reports that “Europe-based VLM Airlines has announced it is going into liquidation. In a statement the company said: “SHS Aviation BV, the majority shareholder of the NV SHS Antwerp Aviation (VLM), has decided to dissolve the Belgian airline and to liquidate it."”