Monday, September 10, 2012

Barrett's purchase of Singapore firms likely to face probe -

ANY liquidator appointed to Irish property company Treasury Holdings will be expected to investigate the recent purchase of two Singapore companies by Treasury director and shareholder Richard Barrett.

The row over the €2.3m purchases deepened last night after the Singapore-listed company in which Mr Barrett and his Treasury colleague, Johnny Ronan, are major shareholders warned its former directors of possible action if they publicly discuss confidential company matters.

This follows media reports in which some former directors alleged that a report from Goldman Sachs had valued the purchased companies at €32m.

Treasury Holdings Real Estate (THRE) said reports in Ireland that quoted statements "allegedly made by former independent non-executive directors of THRE" had come to its attention.

"Unit holders are advised to exercise caution when trading, based on media reports which may not contain accurate or complete information," it said.

"In addition, the board takes a serious view of any breach of confidentiality, even if made by former directors, and will review if any such breach has occurred."

Mr Barret has said the companies -- Treasury China Trust (TCT) and Treasury Holdings (Shanghai) Property Management (THSPM) -- were separately valued by two Irish accountancy firms and he paid the higher of the valuations.

The purchases have already had repercussions in the Irish courts, where NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and KBC bank are seeking the winding-up of Treasury Holdings.

NAMA had been "neutral" on the action, but joined in the petition for a winding-up when it learned of Mr Barrett's purchases.

Treasury has promised to submit an affidavit giving details of the transaction to the High Court by Friday, pending a ruling on the winding-up next month.

Counsel for Treasury pointed out in court that a liquidator can examine any transactions over the previous two years and they can be reversed.

It is likely that any liquidator charged with maximising payments to creditors would do so on behalf of NAMA and KBC.


NAMA is owed €1.75bn by Treasury and has appointed receivers to several projects where loans are not being met, while KBC is owed €75m in connection with the Spencer Dock project in Dublin.

The Singapore-based TCT is not directly linked to Treasury Holdings, but a liquidation of the latter might affect covenants with its lenders.

Some former directors, who were removed in July, have also been quoted commenting on corporate governance issues.

- Brendan Keenan

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