Key Harlequin Property creditors meeting tomorrow in London, SVG

Creditors of Harlequin Property (SVG), the bankrupt Caribbean resort developer, will meet tomorrow in London, in the UK, and Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, to vote on the appointment of a bankruptcy trustee and the appointment of “one or more, not exceeding five” inspectors.

The meetings will take place simultaneously, which means they will kick off at 3pm London time and 10am in the Caribbean, according to Brian Glasgow, the bankruptcy trustee for the HP(SVG) estate.

The main meeting will be the one held at Grenadine House in Kingstown, which is to be chaired by the Supervisor of Insolvency, while the one held at 8 Northumberland Avenue, in Westminster, will be mainly to accommodate the large number of Harlequin investors based in the UK.

Those attending either meeting have been urged to arrived an hour earlier than the scheduled time, to allow for the attendance check-in. “We are expecting a large number of attendees, and therefore ask that persons have all their documentation to hand when arriving at the venue to allow for a quicker check-in,” Glasgow said in an emailed message to creditors yesterday.

Those without the necessarily personal identification, he added, would not be permitted to attend.

‘Last chance for investors to be heard’

As reported, David Ames, the man behind Harlequin Property and its St Vincent and the Grenadines flagship development, Buccament Bay (pictured), has put together a plan to revive the business on behalf of its shareholders, an undisclosed but large number of whom are said to be behind it. Privately he is dismayed that his plan hasn’t received more support from key institutions in the UK, who he believes are not listening to the will of the majority of the shareholders.

And in a statement today, Ames stressed that the meetings tomorrow marked “the last chance for investors to finally have their voices heard and play a central role in protecting their financial interests”.

“Investors are the ones who paid for Buccament Bay Resort and it’s them, not the professionals, who should decide its future,” he added.

“Unfortunately there are some who don’t see it that way: these are the third parties who have stopped investors from voting on [our] proposal and now they want to control the inspector board, which will influence the bankruptcy going forward.

“However, investors can stop them if they ensure they vote or appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf on Friday. I will be proudly acting as proxy for hundreds of investors at the meeting, and I hope to see many investors there fighting for their futures.”

Off-plan investments 

The Harlequin saga began more than a decade ago, when the Buccament Bay resort broke ground, with thousands of mainly UK residents buying off-plan properties at the advice of their financial advisers. At first it seemed destined to become a new Caribbean favourite among British sun-lovers, but it soon ran into trouble, and ended up in the courts.

In spite of such problems, as mentioned, many of the investors are said to have remained loyal to the project and to Ames, and do not want to see the business liquidated, which is the only alternative at this point to his plan, and seems the most likely outcome.

Harlequin investors, of which there are around 3,600, account for the vast majority of creditors in the development, according to Ames.

As reported, the Harlequin plan was dealt a setback last month when the court refused to grant Ames, in his role as developer, more time to put the alternative plan to liquidation together. Ames said the company would appeal the decision. Harlequin entered bankruptcy on 24 February.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Burggraf
Helen Burggraf is the editor of International Investment. A US-trained journalist, she has worked in Rome, New York City and London, covering everything from the fashion and retailing industries to the global drinking water and water-treatment sector, private equity, and most recently, the international cross-border financial services/advice industry.

Read more from Helen Burggraf

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