Property developer avoids bankruptcy again

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 14:37 27/08/2012
david blackmore
Kent Blechynden
JAMES SMITH: Previous owner David Blackmore outside the former landmark department store in Wellington's Lower Cuba St.

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A last ditch attempt by a former high flying Wellington property developer to avoid bankruptcy could be derailed by a $5000 debt.

David Blackmore, the former owner of the James Smith building in central Wellington, previously raced luxury cars with porn king Steve Crowe and owned a $3.8 million apartment in central Auckland.

But following the liquidation of the Blackmore Trust by the Inland Revenue last year, he has been facing bankruptcy, with personal guarantees on loans of around $15.6m.

This week he is back in the Wellington High Court attempting to delay the process, with signs a compromise deal with creditors might be possible.

In a statement to the court, Blackmore told Associate Judge Jeremy Doogue that while he had previously dispensed with the services of a lawyer because there was ''not much point to try to defend'' himself against the bankruptcy application, the position had now changed.

According to Blackmore, creditors owed more than $15m of the total debt were ''prepared to entertain a nominal payment in the settlement of their accounts and that will enable the payment of smaller accounts, either in sum or in part''.

Nominal payments can be as small as $1.

Blackmore submitted a letter from the large creditors which he said supported his claims, however he warned one of the smallest creditors, Ullrich Aluminium, was opposed to any compromise.

Owing the company $5000, Blackmore said he had approached Ullrich about repaying the debt at $500 a month.

''That was rejected by Ullrich. The comment used to me was that they wanted to send a signal to the market place that they were serious about collecting their debts,''
Blackmore said, adding that the company ''seem insistent on bankruptcy rather than being paid''.

Since learning the major lenders, which include St Laurence, would entertain a compromise, Blackmore had retained lawyers at Izard Weston, who advised him to seek a short adjournment from the court to put a formal scheme or arrangement proposal to creditors.

He had already contacted Westpac, which is owed about $300,000, about the plan.

''The alternative is to be bankrupted and there will be nothing available to anybody,'' he said.

''To make the payments to these creditors I'm going to have to arrange some funding for that, based on a work contract I have currently for the next four years.''

Last year property developer Mark Dunajtschik bought the James Smiths building from the receivers and hired Blackmore to manage a project to restart a stalled development plan.

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Associate Judge Doogue granted an adjournment until September 24, but warned Blackmore to act quickly.

''You're living on borrowed time, so speed really is of the essence.''

Blackmore replied: I've been on borrowed time for some time, Sir.''

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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