The High Court has approved the appointment of an official liquidator to three companies within the SIAC construction group. Mr Justice Brian O’Moore stated that it was appropriate to make an order winding up the firms and appointed insolvency practitioner David O’Connor of BDO as official liquidator. Mr O’Connor had previously been appointed provisional liquidator earlier this month when the two companies in the group petitioned for the winding up.
The two trading companies, SIAC Construction Ltd and SIAC Roofing and Cladding Ltd, were both included in the winding up order. While SIAC Roofing and Cladding Ltd had been profit-making for several years, it is predicted to have losses of around €500,000 in 2023. SIAC Construction Ltd has a net liability of €12.3m. The court also heard that the group holding company, SIAC Holdings (Ireland) Ltd, while not a trading company, was also insolvent and was included in the winding up order.
The Feighery family had acquired SIAC in the mid-1990s, and the company had been set up in 1913. Mr Justice Brian O’Moore stated that it was “a sad day” to see a company that is well-known in Ireland being forced into liquidation. The only matter of potential controversy in the winding up application was an initial objection by Tom Feighery, a creditor through his shareholding in a parent firm XTA Investments Ltd, to the appointment of Mr O’Connor as liquidator. However, this objection had evaporated in the course of the hearing, and no other creditor expressed concern. The judge was satisfied that Mr O’Connor was the appropriate person to appoint as official liquidator.
SIAC’s operations are in the building, civil engineering, roofing, and cladding sectors and have worked on many high-profile building projects, including motorways. The court heard last month that the company had experienced severe cash difficulties in recent years, resulting in the companies becoming loss-making and insolvent. Its difficulties included the negative impact of Covid-19 on the construction sector, significant increases in costs in labour and materials, insurance and bonding difficulties, as well as onerous conditions placed on those performing civil engineering projects for public bodies in Ireland. The loss of senior key personnel in recent months had also had a negative impact on the companies, the court heard.
Uncertainty about the companies’ ability to pay their debts had led to a loss of confidence among suppliers and led to knock-on effects in terms of cash flow. If the companies continued to trade, the concern was that they could incur liabilities they could not meet, counsel said. The group has assets worth some €11.2m, and the operating companies had been relying on financial support from its XTA parent. The court also heard last month that the companies accept staff could not be paid.
The judge had previously directed the firms’ director to file a statement of affairs in relation to the roofing and construction firms. He also directed on Friday that a statement be provided in relation to the holding company. The appointment of an official liquidator to the SIAC construction group companies marks the end of a long-standing Irish company that has contributed significantly to the country’s infrastructure. The liquidation process will now begin, and creditors will be notified of the process.