Property Work-Out

Turnaround & restructuringFinancial forecastingStakeholder communication

Developed and delivered rapid debt reduction in line with lender expectations to avoid insolvency.

Economic downturn hits WA car and property group.

The WA economic downturn had a devastating effect on a range of businesses. One such company was a Western Australian automotive and property development group. The group had bank facilities totalling $41M and was in default with its secured lenders following the softening of the car market and reduction in property values.

The Group engaged Vantage to develop a turnaround plan to work out its debt positions and keep secured lenders on side. Prior to presenting the plan their main bank was on the verge of appointing receivers to enforce recovery of its debt.

The family-controlled group was not equipped to deal with the complexities of the restructure. Previous strategies to provide intra-group funding support were unworkable, as most entities in the Group were cash flow negative and multiple bank facilities were in default.

Without a clear plan to fix the situation and effective communication with the principal lender, bank support would have been lost, triggering multi-million dollar losses to the family group.

A complex tax-driven structure involving layers of corporate trustees, family and unit trusts, property-owning trusts and trading trusts created additional challenges to avoid triggering further defaults with other lenders.

The company’s financial structure was equally complex. Multiple lenders with facilities featuring multiple variations made it difficult to clearly identify each lender’s position. Matters were made worse by weak internal controls and the lack of a clear strategy.

How we turned things around.

We started by reviewing the Group’s property portfolio and its associated loan-to-value ratios to identify our restructuring options.

We then created a financial model to test and develop strategies to bring the group’s facilities within the principal banker’s covenants and prepared and implemented a targeted property sale strategy with clear milestones.

Metrics were identified and implemented to track performance for each business unit and stakeholders received regular updates to ensure their ongoing support.

We mentored and guided the Managing Director for 12 months while properties were sold – or developed, let and sold – to enable the residual debt to be refinanced. And I’m happy to say that all the Group’s business units were profitable during this period.

The key results of the turnaround were:

  • stakeholder confidence provided the Group with time to sell its targeted properties in an orderly manner to maximise value
  • property sales of $20 million in 4 months restored bank covenants from an LVR of 86% to 65%
  • $32.6 million of bank debt was repaid through property sales and refinance
  • successful refinance of the incumbent lender who received a 100% recovery of principal and interest
  • stabilisation of the Group’s activities and balance sheet which improved shareholder value by around $10 million, underscoring the client’s return on investment of 43 x.

“During the GFC of 2008-2010 we all felt the environment change, we felt all the banks were under pressure due to the valuation decline and similarly they put us under pressure to sell our property portfolios to reduce debt. During this time Andrew Birch joined our operations and constructed a business strategy and plan which became the blueprint for our ongoing operations.

Utilising this, we set targets with our bankers and achieved our goals well prior to the expected dates. The result of this was it enabled our group to operate within a comfortable debt level and now we are in a position to grow our trading businesses to a manageable and sustainable profit level.

These goals could not have been achieved without Andrew’s input and close collaboration with our group and our Bankers.”

Managing Director

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