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Lagan Construction: 161 firms try to recover debts

More than 160 companies owed money by collapsed contractor Lagan Construction have submitted claims to administrators since the Northern Irish contractor went bust in February, Construction News can reveal.

A total of 142 sterling claims valued at £8.58m and 19 euro claims valued at €3.36m (£2.95m) have been lodged with KPMG, according to its latest progress report.

In February, Lagan Construction bosses confirmed they would be putting four of its construction subsidiaries into administration: Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd, Lagan Construction Group Ltd, Lagan Building Contractors Ltd and Lagan Water Ltd.

The group’s chair Michael Lagan blamed contractual disputes and project delays for the move.

KPMG said it had now received the 161 proof-of-debt applications worth more than £11.53m, but that the validity of these claims still needed to be formally reviewed.

The administrator said unsecured creditors could still receive a percentage of their money back through a part distribution, but KPMG was not yet able to confirm how much.

In May, Lagan Construction’s statement of affairs revealed the company owed firms more than £21m when it entered administration, including £9,107,959 to trade creditors and a further £12,493,396 to joint venture partners.

Administrators have so far raised £1,008,560 through the sale of shares in Lagan Construction subsidiaries and a £300,000 payment from Somague, Lagan’s JV partner on the £250m Ulster University scheme.

The funds raised have been offset by the cost of legal fees, agent fees and repayment of some funds, leaving a net sum of £806,437.

Lagan Construction had no cash in the bank when it went under and KPMG’s initial work had to be funded through a £150,000 payment from its holding company Lagan Construction Group Holdings (Isle of Man), which continues to trade.

Lagan Construction Group Holdings (IOM) has been repaid these fees through money raised by the £550,000 sale of Lagan Construction subsidiary Lagan Plant Ltd.

Those shares were bought by FK Lowry Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Lagan Construction Group Holdings (IOM). A number of directors of FK Lowry Holdings were formerly directors at Lagan Construction Group Ltd.

Lagan Plant has now changed its name to FK Lowry Plant Ltd.

Shareholdings for five other Lagan Construction subsidiaries were transferred to Isle of Man-based group Lagan Specialist Contracting Group Holdings Ltd in April, all for £1 each. 

These were: Lagan Construction Services, Lagan Construction (England) Ltd, Lagan Construction UK Ltd, Lagan Construction (IOM) Ltd and Charles Brand Group.

A number of the Lagan Construction subsidiaries unaffected by the administration are now working under the banner of Lagan Specialist Contracting Group (LSCG) brand, including H&J Martin, FK Lowry Group and Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure.

Several new companies are also operating under the Lagan Constructing Group brand, including Clonrose Developments and Charles Brand.

Charles Brand – which, according to Companies House, has been a dormant company since 2009 – is now described as LSCG’s civil engineering and M&E arm.

LSCG’s website lists a number of former Lagan Construction schemes as former projects, such as the £130m A8 dualling between Dublin and Larne and the Olympic Stadium’s Central Park Bridge.

Clonrose Development’s website lists Manchester’s Outwood Wharf phase one and two among its current projects, which it says it is delivering with JV partner Endeavour Strategic Developments.

Lagan Building Contractors, one of the four subsidiaries now in administration, won the £35m contract to build the first phase of the Outwood Wharf tower in August 2017.

Lagan Specialist Contracting Group declined to comment. KPMG has been contacted for comment.

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