Collapsed Beetham business owes creditors £50m

30th Sep 2011 North West

Administrators of Regional Landmark Hotels, formerly known as the Beetham Organization, have revealed the Liverpool-headquartered company collapsed owing creditors more than £50m, with Barclays and Bank of Scotland set to take a hit.

The business was owned by Stephen Beetham, brother Simon Frost and father Hugh Frost, and was involved in some of the most striking developments in the North West, including the Beetham Tower in Manchester and the 40-storey West Tower in Liverpool.

But Don Bailey and Lindsey Cooper from Baker Tilly were appointed joint administrators on 25 July 2011 after a winding-up petition was filed in the High Court.

A report from Baker Tilly has now revealed that Regional Landmark Hotels owed an estimated £51m when it failed, with sizeable chunks due to Barclays and Bank of Scotland.

The company's collapse followed the administrations of a series of subsidiaries within the group, including that of Beetham Hotels Manchester, operated by the Hilton Hotel chain.

Baker Tilly said solicitors' firm Olswang issued a winding-up petition against Regional Landmark Hotels in June, relating to an intercompany debt of £2.7m. The firm was acting on behalf of KPMG in its capacity as administrator of Beetham Hotels Manchester.

Barclays Bank was also pursuing a claim of £10.6m against two of the company's subsidiaries, and had sought to appoint Grant Thornton as receivers, while Bank of Scotland was owed £6.4m and Birkenhead-based Smiths Limited owed £1.3m.

Administrators said the directors of Regional Landmark Hotels have yet to submit a statement of affairs document, but it is estimated that there will be a deficiency of £34.8m to banks and intercompany loans, and trade and expense creditors will be £15m out of pocket.

Baker Tilly said some cash should be available to Smiths, but all other creditors will lose out. However, the administrators added that money could be raised from the sale of assets and said discussions were underway with an unconnected third party for its Birmingham business.

Regional Landmark Hotels – and parent company Beetham Holdings Two – have been hit hard by the property downturn and struggled to meet its bank borrowing requirements in recent years. Pre-tax losses at Regional Landmark Hotels were £27m in the year to 30 September 2008, the last accounts available.

In October 2010, the group's ambitious 52-storey One Blackfriars project in London entered administration, while West Tower Liverpool and Mapfield Properties collapsed four months later.

A report from administrators at Grant Thornton revealed that Mapfield Properties, which owned the freehold to West Tower, failed owing Anglo Irish Bank £25.6m.

Administrators from KPMG were also called in at the group's Manchester and Liverpool hotel businesses in February. The hotels, operated by Hilton in Manchester and Radisson Blu in Liverpool, were dragged under by an £89m debt-pile.

In June, proceedings were started to strike Beetham Holdings Two off the register, but the action was stopped after objections were raised.

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