20 March 2023

PBS Building debts blow out as ACT creditors lodge claims

| Ian Bushnell
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building site

The Capital Food Market site in Belconnen. Construction Control will complete the project. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

More than 170 ACT businesses or individuals are owed money by collapsed builder PBS Building, as the company’s debts balloon to more than $40 million.

Canberra-based PBS Building went into voluntary administration on 7 March, and last Friday (17 March), the first creditors’ meeting was held at the Hellenic Club in Phillip.

Administrators from RSM Australia told the meeting, attended by about 180 creditors, that creditors had lodged 374 claims – 177 in the ACT, 131 in NSW and 66 in Queensland.

“This number is also expected to rise and fall until the Administrators are able to verify the claims,” RSM Partner Jonathon Colbran said.

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Mr Colbran said the principals of seven of the 24 PBS project sites that were under construction had taken steps to recommence work.

“This includes five of the eight active projects in NSW, one of the 11 ACT projects and one of the five active Queensland projects,” he said.

“The 17 other projects that were also in various stages of construction are also advancing towards a resolution.”

In the ACT, this includes the Capital Food Market project in Belconnen where Construction Control has taken over, and The Melrose in Woden where Doma has engaged long-time partner Bloc.

Other ACT projects still to find new builders include the Stockland townhouses at The Parks development in Red Hill and 45 flexi-living homes at Ginninderry.

There are a further 56 projects that have been completed and are now in a defect liability period.

The administrators have identified more than 1000 creditors and had initially found debts of $25 million.

Mr Colbran said Friday’s meeting was the first of two that would be held during the administration process, with the second being where creditors would determine the future of the five PBS companies.

“At the second meeting, creditors will vote on whether to put the companies into liquidation or enter into a Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA),” he said. “A DOCA is a binding agreement between a company and its creditors that sets out how the affairs and assets of the company will be dealt with.”

The administrators were working towards delivering a detailed creditor’s report on the outcome of their investigations into PBS’s construction entities, including recommendations, by about mid-April.

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But this timeframe could change due to the complexity of the administration.

Mr Colbran said the report would include findings of RSM’s investigations into project trust accounts in Queensland and NSW.

“These trust accounts were frozen from the date of the appointment of the Administrators,” he said.

“We are now identifying which projects the accounts relate to, which creditors may have rights to the funds in these accounts and then reconciling these funds.

“The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) will concurrently undertake a compliance audit of the Queensland project trust accounts.”

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