Creditors owed £16m by fall of Scottish road builder HQC

Grant Prior 14 years ago

Creditors were owed £16m when Scottish Civil Engineer Highland Quality Construction crashed into administration in June.

Suppliers and subcontractors heard they are likely to receive only pennies for every pound of debt at a creditors’ meeting on Friday.

The Aberdeen Press and Journal said receivers confirmed that payment difficulty with a road contract had led to insurmountable cashflow problems at HQC.

The firm went into receivership in June with the loss of 138 jobs amid claims it had to settle for a reduced payment on a motorway contract for the Bilfinger Berger led HMC consortium.

A report to yesterday’s meeting from receivers KPMG said most of HQC’s contracts were completed before their collapse but the company had not won new work apart from a contract for the M80 Haggs to Stepps project for HMC.

The report said: “The group also faced significant difficulties due to the level of monies being withheld by the main contractor in respect of the M80 contract.

“Monies were received at a much lower level than had been anticipated and this caused further strain on HQC’s cashflow. Ultimately, these cashflow problems became insurmountable.”

The report also revealed that HMC has lodged a counterclaim against HQC for the costs they incurred in completing the project due to the Inverness firm’s inability to finish the work.

Directors of HQC have stated that they owe more than £16million to their creditors.

However, it is expected that former employees, who are preferred creditors, will be paid what they are owed – a sum of more than £143,000.

HQC Ltd comprises three subsidiaries – the Macdonald Group of Companies Ltd, Kenneth Stewart (Strathpeffer) Ltd and Highland Quality Construction Ltd – while a fourth related company, MK Quality Plant Hire Ltd, is also in administration.

About 10 creditors attended the meeting with Neil Armour, associate partner of KPMG, in the Thistle Hotel, Inverness. They agreed to set up a creditors’ committee to represent them during the rest of the receivership process.

Armour reported to the meeting: “HQC’s fixed asset position at the time of our appointment bore little resemblance to those figures stated in the last management accounts as at January 2010.

“During our investigations it became clear that a considerable number of assets were apparently sold to third parties in the months immediately preceding our appointment.

“It remains unclear whether appropriate payments were made to HQC by the purchasers in respect of these assets.”

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