A clash between the boss of finance company Crown AGP and
high-profile property developer Tony Gapes appears to have
triggered the calling in of receivers to one of his companies
behind New Zealand's biggest new affordable housing estate
Chris Arbuckle, chief executive of Takapuna-based Crown, is
making no apologies for the move and is demanding Gapes repay
money he owes the company on the Mt Wellington project.
Arbuckle indicated his firm's decision to call in the
receivers to Gapes' Panama Road Developments was taken as a
defensive, prudent stance.
Crown, founded by John Copson who is on the NBR Richlist with
a $300 million fortune, was funding Springpark's first stage,
converting a 10.5ha former Zealandia Horticulture nursery
into an intensive housing estate.
Via a high-profile marketing campaign spearheaded by Charles
Cooper of Colliers International, Gapes pre-sold all of stage
one of the development in the house-starved Auckland market,
and earthworks are underway.
Colliers is advertising Springpark as innovative: "Springpark
looks set to become a blueprint for the future of attractive,
affordable, modern living in central Auckland."
Arbuckle indicated yesterday that cash concerns resulted in
receivers Kevin Gillespie of Meranti and Stephen Tietjens of
Accru Smith Chilcott being appointed.
"We're in the business of finance and we have been in it for
many, many years," Arbuckle said.
"If you put money in, you have a responsibility to ensure
that the project goes well. There's got to be a reporting
regime in place and I make no apologies for the fact that we
took action. If Mr Gapes is able and willing to pay us back,
that will be a very good result for him.
"We've got to protect our interests. Receivership will now
follow the normal course," Arbuckle said.
He refused to discuss the loan but Gapes said he only owed
Crown $2 million and the receivers were unnecessary.
"Crown knows that we were not going to repay them until the
titles for the new lots had issued which we are expecting to
happen today [Friday] so putting the company in receivership
was an overly dramatic reaction. Ironically it was them who
have held up the titles." Gapes said.
"We began this project with a joint-venture partner, Crown
Finance, who are a finance company. For various reasons we
decided not to proceed with Crown but mainly because they
tried to change the terms of the [joint venture] on us which
was hugely detrimental to us ... Crown are owed around $2
million and I imagine they have put [the company] into
receivership, which they are entitled to do as a secured
creditor, to put us under pressure to get them repaid as soon
as possible," he said.
"We are not currently doing any marketing as all of stage one
is basically sold out. We will begin marketing the second
stage towards the middle of the year."
One party close to parties claimed Arbuckle and Gapes
clashed."It's definitely got the makings of a squabble," the
Arbuckle said: "If we're putting money into a project we need
to know what's going on. The initial stage of a project is
Earlier this year, a property owned by one of Gapes'
companies was put up for mortgagee sale. ASAP Finance
advertised a 1615sqm prime plot on Wellington's Waterloo Quay
to claw back some of the $6.99 million it loaned to his
Waterloo Quay Projects.
Planned Mt Wellington affordable housing estate.
Not an Auckland Housing Accord Special Housing Area.
Pre-sales $399,000 to $554,000.
Tony Gapes plans to build 424 apartments or townhouses.
Buying Zealandia Horticulture site at 33 Panama Rd, 98-100
Hillside Rd, Mt Wellington Highway, 11 Ryburn St.
10% pre-purchase deposits taken on most of first stage.