Yacht builder pays up to avoid wind-up

 

NARROW MISS

One of Queensland's premier luxury yacht builders has narrowly avoided liquidation after settling a legal dispute at the last minute.

Gold Coast-based Marine Engineering Consultants Pty Ltd, trading as MEC Yachts, was the subject of a wind-up bid lodged last month in the Brisbane Supreme Court by an entity trading as East Coast Apprenticeships.

MEC founder and boss Murray Owen told City Beat on Thursday that the matter has just been resolved after the wages of trainees were paid, although he was fuzzy on the precise details.

East Coast head Alan Sparks described the legal dust up as "a very unfortunate scenario'' necessitated by the fact that MEC had long delayed payment, which has now been made.

He declined to provide specifics on the number of apprentices involved or how much they were collectively owed.

Murray Owen
Murray Owen

Launched in 1992 and now based at the Gold Coast City Marina, MEC also has outposts in Brisbane and Mackay.

Over the years the company has repaired and refit dozens of cruisers and ferries across Queensland and NSW, as well as overseas.

It also built the $5.5m Evolution catamaran in 2015, a 33m long beast that is among the largest commercial vessels ever made on the Gold Coast.

 

But Owen told us that his business had been "really struggling" to survive during the COVID-19 economic shock.

He vowed to "tough it out'' even as he acknowledged that a number of key contracts had been lost or put on hold.

PRE-PANDEMIC PROBLEMS

Yet it's not the first time financial problems have flared up for Owen, who got his start as an apprentice fitter for Lloyds Ships.

Back in December (well before the pandemic, mind you) an outfit called Reel Action Sports Fishing sued both MEC and Owen personally over alleged moneys owing. Owen is defending the matter, which remains ongoing in the Supreme Court.

Owen also pulled the plug on one of his companies, Mjowen Pty Ltd, in mid-2017.

A liquidator's report obtained by City Beat shows it went down owing $615,592 in unpaid wages, super and other entitlements, as well as another $814,559 to unsecured creditors.

The Evolultion catamaran built by MEC Yachts
The Evolultion catamaran built by MEC Yachts

It had just $12,000 in cash at the bank and liquidator Anthony Castley alleged that it may have traded while insolvent. ASIC never pursued the issue in court.

Owen said the demise of the company followed an unspecified "legal matter'' but he declined to comment further on the details.

Just five weeks after he wound up the firm, Owen and his missus splashed out on a deposit for a luxurious Gold Coast home.

Property records reveal they settled on the near $2m deal for the waterfront spread at Hope Island in October 2017.

LIQUIDATOR'S PROBE

Newly-appointed liquidators have launched an investigation into claims of unpaid work by subcontractors on a million dollar family home in Brisbane that was sold just before the occupant's construction company collapsed.

Total Lifestyle Builders sole director Allan Stroud appointed a liquidator last month to wind up his company's affairs.

He estimated that the firm, which had traded since 2004 and billed itself as the city's premier home extension and renovation business, owed just over $1m to unsecured creditors.

Total Lifestyle Builders sole director Allan Stroud.
Total Lifestyle Builders sole director Allan Stroud.

Now there's been a twist, with creditors last week replacing the previous Stroud-appointed liquidator with Hall Chadwick's Ginette Muller and Marcus Watters.

Muller said they have started a probe into claims by a subcontractor that he has not been paid for working on Stroud's home, which sold for $1.06m in April.

"We're investigating whether that liability is one that should properly be pursued against the director and not the company, particularly where we understand the house has now been sold," she said.

"We have also been told that there have been other real property transfers that require further scrutiny and these are the subject of our further investigations and inquiries.''

Stroud could not be reached for comment.

Originally published as Yacht builder pays up to avoid wind-up



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