Belfast Telegraph

Lagan Construction Group owed £45m to bank and trade creditors

By Margaret Canning

Construction giant Lagan Construction Group owed its main lender £24m and trade creditors more than £21m when it entered administration two months ago, according to a report.

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The company was headed up by chairman Michael Lagan, his son Kevin Anthony Lagan, a director, and two other directors, John Cunningham and Gerard O'Callaghan.

Announcing the decision to put the company into administration in March, Michael Lagan pointed to contractual disputes - thought to include problems over its work on the new £250m Ulster University campus in Belfast city centre. Work has stopped on the campus, which Lagan was working on with joint venture partner Somague, since the administration in March.

Now an administrators' report filed by business advisory firm KPMG said the company owed trade creditors £9.1m, and £12.5m to the company's joint ventures. In addition, Danske Bank was owed £24m, while HMRC was owed around £719,000.

KPMG said it had failed to find adequate funds within the business to keep the business running, and would instead look to sell the company's assets.

The report revealed that 112 out of 133 staff members have been made redundant since the administration. Another 18 resigned between March 5 and March 7.

Administrators John Hansen and Stuart Irwin were appointed to Lagan Construction Group Ltd, Lagan Construction Group Holdings Ltd, Lagan Building Contractors Ltd and Lagan Water Ltd on March 5.

A report on the background to their appointment says: "The directors advised that the company faced difficult trading conditions in recent months due to delays in projects and unprofitable contracts impacting cash flows.

"In addition, recent insolvencies in the construction industry had an adverse impact on the company, resulting in tightened credit terms and requests for upfront payments. This further impacted cash flow.

"As a result of these circumstances, and future projected losses, the company was unable to continue to trade and the decision was taken by the directors to place the company into administration."

However, the report adds that other companies within the larger group of Lagan companies continue to trade.

The report adds that the company had work in progress of £8m when it went into administration. But it adds that since there was no funding to keep trading, they were unable to complete any contracts.

It said the joint administrators were assessing their legal, insurance and health and safety obligations on each site to make sure any obligations were complied with.

It added: "There have been discussions with a number of JV partners across various contracts to seek to achieve clean exits from a number of the company's obligations under various joint venture arrangements.

"That process is ongoing and we will provide further updates in future reports."

Speaking at the time the administration was announced, chairman Michael Lagan said: "It is with great sadness and reluctance that we have had to take this course of action."

Ballymena bus manufacturer Wrightbus has won a deal worth around £5m for five of its buses in Mexico, according to reports.

Wrights Group's international division has secured the contract for five of its StreetDeck double-deck vehicles.

And the buses, which are designed to be environmentally-friendly and economical on fuel, have already taken to the roads of Monterrey in Mexico.

The deal is a first for Wrightbus in Latin America, an international market which it hopes to develop.

Wrightbus International managing director John McLeister said: "This reflects a huge effort from the Wrightbus team and is a significant step for the company."

Belfast Telegraph