Dave Burgess at Dom Post reports:
Two companies belonging to property developer Terry Serepisos have been placed in receivership owing nearly $13 million.
PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed receivers by Equitable Mortgages who are owed about $11 million from 79 Manners St Ltd.
Recievers will sell the 11-storey Ivivi Building in Victoria St, and nine studio apartments at Renaissance Apartments in Manners St.
Mr Serepisos’ Maison Property Holdings Ltd also owes Equitable about $1.79m, which will see the recievers sell four apartments at the Maison Cabriole Apartments on the corner of Tory St and Courtenay Place.
He is listed as sole director of both companies in receivership.
However, Mr Serepisos says he was in the process of selling the assets as part of his company restructuring.
“These properties were being sold anyway. All they’ve done is come along and taken over the sales process. They want to be in control and that’s fine.”
Personally I would not be so sanguine about receivership.
Both the receivers, and Mr Serepisos, stressed that it was only these two companies that were in receivership, not Mr Serepisos himself or any of his other companies.
Shane Cowlishaw in the Dom Post reports:
Terry Serepisos is flying to Zurich in a bid to save the Phoenix football team and four of his other companies – but Inland Revenue is pushing ahead with plans to liquidate them.
The IRD says it is owed more than $3.5 million in outstanding tax and penalties and wants to advertise its plans to liquidate the companies. Mr Serepisos applied to the High Court at Wellington to stop the advertisements, but a judge refused and the adverts are due to run in The Dominion Post tomorrow.
Justice Forrie Miller was told at an urgently arranged hearing on Friday that Mr Serepisos was going to Zurich this week to sign loan documents that would allow IRD and other creditors to be paid within three weeks, assuming various conditions were met.
However, Inland Revenue doubted Mr Serepisos would be able to meet the conditions.
A draft of the loan documents that it had seen contained a condition that the companies wanting the bailout be solvent at present.
If the companies are not solvent, then the issue of liability of directors for trading while insolvent may arise.
The five companies owe around $3.5m to the IRD, being approx:
- PAYE $1.6m
- GST $1.9m
- Kiwisaver $0.1m
- Income Tax $150
Even worse, almost all the money owed is not money from the companies, but money collected from employees and customers in trust for the IRD.
The Dom Post report:
Terry Serepisos is facing fresh legal action, with the Inland Revenue Department seeking to liquidate five of his companies – including the one which owns the Wellington Phoenix – over $3.58 million in unpaid taxes.
The largest sum – more than $1.5m – is owed by Century City Football, owner of the Phoenix football team, for PAYE tax deductions, GST and KiwiSaver contributions.
I hope Serepisos survives, but if he does I suspect he will not be hosting The Apprentice again anytime soon.
In July I was in Hong Kong and surprised to see very large ads in the local paper there for his new apartment block. My reaction was that sales back home can’t be going too well, if you are needing to advertise in Hong Kong.
A Wellington City Council spokesman, Richard MacLean, said the council was “very concerned” over the future of the Phoenix but was unlikely to contribute ratepayers’ money. “We are not in the business of owning a football club.”
I’d love the team to survive also, but it is not the role of council to fund sports teams – sports infrastructure is another matter though.
The Dom Post reports:
ACC is poised to take legal action to liquidate the Wellington Phoenix football club, saying it is owed more than $260,000 in unpaid player levies.
The club, owned by Terry Serepisos, had repeatedly “promised” to pay the levies and had failed to honour agreed payment plans, the Accident Compensation Corporation confirmed to The Dominion Post.
ACC plans to go to court today to liquidate Century City Football, whose sole director is Mr Serepisos.
He said last night that he was “shocked” by the legal threat. The matter would not go to court because “we have made arrangements to pay” today, he said.
Terry, Terry, Terry. I don’t think they want an arrangement to pay. I think they want a cheque.
ACC acting chief executive Keith McLea confirmed the legal action earlier yesterday. “Century City Football owes more than $260,000 in unpaid levies to ACC, some of it dating back several years.
“They have promised to pay many times but not done so. We have even agreed payment plans with them but these have not been honoured.
I can’t recall ACC ever liquidating someone before. IRD do it heaps. Maybe ACC do also, but are lower profile about it.
Mr Serepisos said he and his lawyer had agreed on a plan with ACC on Friday to pay the levies and “they have not even advised me of this [the move to liquidate].”
The amount of levies was “in dispute”, he said, and he would fight any legal action.
The claim the amount of levies is in dispute is a red herring. I actually worked in credit control for Wellington Newspapers once. You get very good at knowing the difference between those with a genuine dispute and those disputing as an excuse not to pay on time.
Those with a genuine dispute always agree to pay the undisputed part of the account, and only with-hold the (often quite small) aspect under dispute.
Those who can not or will not pay, refuse to pay anything due to the “dispute”. They are the ones you cut off further credit to, or refer to the debt collector/court.
Hopefully for the sake of the Phoenix, Terry Serepisos can actually pay, so the team is not liquidated.
Sunday News reports:
RICH-lister Terry Serepisos is to seek legal advice over claims by controversial blogger Cameron “Whale Oil” Slater. Serepisos – owner of the Phoenix soccer franchise and host of The Apprentice NZ – was angered by claims made about his financial status on a Whale Oil blog posted earlier this week.
The Wellington-based businessman was in Hamilton yesterday watching his Phoenix in their pre-season game against the Brisbane Roar and wouldn’t comment.
But when asked what action Serepisos would take over the posting, the property developer’s spokesman John Mitchell said: “He [Serepisos] will take a look at things on Monday. He will talk to someone if he feels that [sueing] is the appropriate course of action.
“It [seeking action] has got to that point over a number of things. Terry does have a lawyer who looks at these sorts of things and if any action is to be taken.”
Mitchell said Serepisos had already put one media organisation “on notice” about its coverage of his financial affairs.
He said of Slater’s latest posting: “It is just a nasty, silly and spurious rumour.
“Terry is the sort of person who polarises people. There are some people who do not necessarily have it in for him but are very keen to spread these spurious rumours. It is just ridiculous.”
Mitchell said the claims made by Slater “weren’t worth responding to”.
For legal reasons, Sunday News cannot repeat the detail of Slater’s posting.
For the same reasons, please don’t repeat them here.
If Serepisos does sue for defamation, it would be a very high profile court case.
Brian Edwards blogs:
But the eagle-eyed little bird had spotted something strange in the Close Up story. In it reporter Daniel Faitaua interviews David Henshilwood and his wife Sally about their problems with Serepisos. Referring to the interview, Faitaua says in voice-over, ‘That was them four weeks ago when they told us of their frustration trying to get paid for installing screens in Terry Serepisos’ Century City Hotel.’
Whoa there! Four weeks ago! You interviewed the Henshilwoods four weeks ago, but you only approached Sereposis’ office yesterday to seek a response. Isn’t that just a little strange?
The eagle-eyed little bird thought so and made a few discreet inquiries. ‘I’m told,’ he tweeted in my ear, ‘that Close Up was instructed not to run the story because it would embarrass TVNZ for not doing proper checks on Mr Serepisos before accepting him for the show. It’s only hearsay of course.’
I am sure normally Close Up do not wait four weeks before following up a story. It would be good to know if they were ordered to wait, to avoid damage to The Apprentice.
Well, if my eagle-eyed little bird has it right, it’s kinda sad isn’t it. For a network to instruct or even suggest to a current affairs programme that it ought to abandon or delay an item of public interest on the grounds that the item might damage the reputation or ratings of one of the network’s other programmes, really isn’t journalistically or morally defensible.
And if it didn’t happen like that, I’m happy to retract and apologise to TVNZ. As for my eagle-eyed little feathered friend, he may have to watch out for passing birdshot.
Sounds like a good topic for Media 7.
The HoS reports:
Glenn Sims, managing director of Redflame Media and producer of The Apprentice, last night defended his star: “I’m not worried about Terry’s credibility because all these attacks are Tall Poppy syndrome.”
All the stuff/rumours about Terry’s past are probably tall poppy syndrome. But the inability to pay his bill is not an attack – it is a matter of fact.
TVNZ was also standing by the top-rating show. Spokeswoman Megan Richards said: “Serepisos’ private affairs are his own business, and we will not be commenting.”
What nonsense. When you are promoting him as one of the most successful businessmen in NZ, and someone who people would aspire to work for, then it is absolutely relevant whether or not he can pay his bills or not.
TVNZ had undertaken due diligence prior to Serepisos’ being picked for the show.
Did that include a credit check?
The Dom Post reports:
The Apprentice star Terry Serepisos is being chased by creditors and is struggling to pay about $2 million in unpaid rates and ground rents to Wellington City Council.
A Dominion Post investigation has learnt that the council has met regularly with Mr Serepisos – but he has yet to settle the substantial debt.
It is understood Mr Serepisos has told the council he is struggling to pay – and if the council takes action to recover the money it could jeopardise the Wellington Phoenix football franchise he owns. Mr Serepisos said yesterday that he had pumped a total of $5 million into the football club, which this week received a five-year extension to continue in the A-League.
I have to say that one shouldn’t make sponsorship commitments, if you can’t provide the support promised. Not paying rates, so one can continue the sponsorship is not an enduring solution.
Mr Serepisos said he had spent vast sums promoting Wellington, bankrolling the Phoenix and working with several charities and the community.
“I’m pouring in millions and millions of dollars to promote this city and doing all these things I do. And I feel a little disheartened that a handful of people are taking pot shots at me.”
Which is all great, and I think the Phoenix are great. But the obligation is to meet your legal and contractual obligations first. If you are unable to pay your rates, because of the Phoenix sponsorship, then you are not sponsoring the Phoenix – I am – along with all the other ratepayers who do pay our rates.
And it goes without saying how bad a look it is for The Apprentice TV show, to have the boss in the media for being unable to pay his bills. Maybe the winner should make sure they get the $200,000 in advance!
Another Dom Post story also has details of other creditors claiming they have not been paid.
I’m with Cactus on this.
I can’t see the cream of NZ’s aspiring business leaders applying to be The Apprentice just to earn a six figure salary working for Terry Serepisos.
Most business graduates reckon they will be earning $100,000+ before they are 30 anyway.
But it is not just about salary. The US Apprentice worked so well as people would do anything to work for the Don. Not so much for the US$250,000 salary but for the prestige, and more importantly the wealth of contacts you gain. Working for Trump will get you through almost any door.
I think Serepisos has been very successful, and like what he has done with the Pheonix. He isn’t a bad choice for the role, but the problem is that with one or two exceptions there are no good choices.
Unlike the US, you don’t need to work for a top businessman, to gain access to top business and political leaders. We are a small enough country that people see them all the time.
So what was needed was a strong personality. Bob Jones would have been ideal 20 years ago. It would have been the best viewing possible.