Property tycoon Terry Serepisos is restructuring his business, selling assets and reorganising arrangements with his bankers in a bid to solve a cash-flow crisis that is threatening the Wellington Phoenix.
Mr Serepisos today admitted his finances are under strain and that he is taking immediate steps to stave off court action by the Inland Revenue Department to liquidate five of his companies over $3.58 million in unpaid taxes and penalties.
"We have been talking to the IRD for six months on how to deal with this and we have a way forward."
He said the debt would be repaid within three weeks. The court action was a formality and the IRD was "comfortable" with the solutions he was offering, he said.
When asked how he would find the money, he said: "There are sales of apartments and restructuring [of his property portfolio] that is being done and refinancing."
"It is a timing thing and we are waiting for settlements and restructuring."
The Dominion Post this week revealed the court action by IRD, casting doubt on the stability of Mr Serepisos's property development empire and on the future of the Phoenix football team.
The club is owned by Central City Football Ltd, a company in turn wholly owned by Mr Serepisos.
That company is responsible for nearly half of the debt to the IRD - a total $1.5m in unpaid PAYE deductions, GST, and KiwiSaver contributions.
Mr Serepisos said today it was costing $400,000 a month to fund the Phoenix and this was taking a toll on his finances. "That's a lot of cash flow. Has cash been tight? Absolutely."
He said he remained committed to the club and was confident it had a great future.
"The bankers are a little bit nervous about what they think is going on.
"We are in a recession and in very tough times. I am no different to anyone else and I'm not immune to this. You have to appreciate that 90 per cent of developers in Auckland have gone under. We're still here."
Mr Serepisos today paid tribute to the Phoenix fans and thanked them for their continued support. "They have remained 100 per cent behind the team."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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