Reprieve for SnOasis finance company

SUPREME Court justices have today granted protection for the insolvent asset management firm which owns half the company which is set to build SnOasisFirst Equity owns a 50 per cent share in Onslow Suffolk Limited, which plans to build the �350million SnOasis development at Great Blakenham.

SUPREME Court justices have today granted protection for the insolvent asset management firm which owns half the company which is set to build SnOasis

First Equity owns a 50 per cent share in Onslow Suffolk Limited, which plans to build the �350million SnOasis development at Great Blakenham.

The finance company, which still has development projects said to be worth €1 billion, sought protection and external support in December.

But a High Court last week refused to confirm the appointment of an examiner to oversee operations after finding evidence did not satisfy a reasonable prospect of survival.


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On Tuesday the Irish Supreme Court overturned the decision but heard how the company, whose assets total €54.3m, owed secured and unsecured creditors a total of €52m. If liquidated, the assets would be worth just €28m, leaving a deficit of around €24m.

The SnOasis winter sports resort, which is due for completion in 2012, is set to become the first UK-based training home for the British Ski and Snowboard teams.

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Godfrey Spanner, managing director of Onslow Suffolk stressed that First Equity's financial difficulties would not halt SnOasis plans. He said: “It was a worry last week when the court overturned the application because it was quite possible First Equity would be wound up.

“But, while we are obviously still concerned for our colleagues at the company, it really doesn't affect SnOasis or Onslow.”

As a result of a cash flow shortage and collapsing construction market, First Equity was unable to pay a 20-30 percent annual debit on unsecured loans totalling €10m.

The company had “come unstuck” because it had involved itself in funding developments rather than act solely in a brokerage capacity, its counsel Lyndon MacCann SC told the court.

The examiner, of accountancy firm KPMG, will now prepare a design aimed at securing the company's survival, which may include one of six parties interested in investing in the company.

A spokesman for First Equity Group said the company welcomed the decision and that directors and staff remain committed to the continued proactive management of the group's projects.

Do you think SnOasis can still triumph over the economic slump? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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