InTempo Case: Judge Ratifies Sareb As Privileged Creditor

16 February 2017 – Diario Información

The ruling dismisses claims made by companies and individuals in the bankruptcy of Olga Urbana, by stating that the bad bank was not responsible for administering the company.

“The engagement of Suasor was justified by the circumstances of the construction work” and “there is no evidence” that that company, Abanca or Sareb acted as de facto administrators. The judge of Commercial Court number 1 in Alicante has dismissed three claims, made by companies and professionals that participated in the construction of the InTempo building in Benidorm, and has rejected the possibility of revoking Sareb’s status as a privileged creditor. This decision, which according to sources close to proceedings could still be appealed, opens the way for the so-called bad bank to end up being awarded ownership of the tallest skyscraper in the tourist city. Construction of the skyscraper is currently suspended, pending resolution of the liquidation process in which its developer, the company, Olga Urbana, is immersed.

The ruling, to which this newspaper had access yesterday, is uncompromising given that it does not reflect the claims of the minority creditors. By contrast, it attributes the exhaustive control exerted by the financial entities involved, Abanca – formerly Caixa Galicia – and Sareb – which inherited the loan due to a legal mandate to free Abanca from its toxic assets – through Suasor, to the situation in which the construction of this concrete giant found itself, which meant that engaging an external company to control and verify how the project was being managed was completely “justified”. (…).

Background

The incidental claims that the judge has now dismissed were filed by Kono Estructuras, a company that participated in the construction work and which is represented in the creditors’ bankruptcy to claim the payment of just over €1 million; the architect Robert Pérez Guerras, who also demanded the payment of a debt amounting to €133,019 for fees that he failed to receive when he left the Project Management team; and Isidro Bononat. All of them challenged the list of creditors prepared by the bankruptcy administrator, on the basis that Sareb, which is claiming the payment of just over €108 million, should not be accorded the status of privileged credit, but rather should rank as a subordinated creditor, given that it served as a de facto administrator of Olga Urbana and therefore, should assume some of the responsibility for its bankruptcy. (…).

The ruling from Commercial Court number 1 is clear. It states that the engagement of an external supervisor is “normal” in high-profile developments, such as the case of InTempo and that, in this case, Suasor limited its scope to controlling the progress of the construction work, and did not interfere the internal operations of the construction company.

Progress towards liquidation

This ruling represents another step forward in the InTempo liquidation process and, moreover, opens an important avenue in Sareb’s favour. The open auction to sell the building received just two bids: one for €47 million and the other for €52 million, which was ruled out because it arrived 20 days late. Both bids fell well below the appraisal value of the property, €90 million, and so Sareb, as a privileged creditor, submitted its own offer of €58.5 million, to be awarded the building. The claims paralysed that process but now that they have been resolved, all indications are that it may be reactivated.

Original story: Diario Information (by R. Pagés)

Translation: Carmel Drake

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