Harlequin property update: Statement issued by the Harlequin Investor Group


Update Harlequin 150pxThe Harlequin Investor Group has issued an update on the latest developments, including details of a possible rescue plan for the beleagured property company.

The statement seen, by Investment Sense, follows a meeting between two members of the Harlequin Investor Group, a solicitor from Regulatory Legal, plus Harlequin advisers, James Cannon and Jim Baker, to discuss the “Rescue Plan”.

Harlequin Investor Group statement in full

The statement reads from the Harlequin Investor Group reads:

1.    The plan is quite complex and it will involve investors amending rights under their existing contracts.  This process will require investors to make an informed choice. There will need to be a financial promotion in the form of an Information Memorandum issued to all investors. This document is going to require advice and explanation. Harlequin Investor Group will be organising workshops to run through the ramifications. It is clearly inappropriate for Harlequin, sales agents or financial advisers to provide this advice as they are not independent to the existing circumstances

2.    The plan will reorganise the assets held between the Harlequin companies into a more manageable structure.  This process will allow any financier to have clear title (enabling them to lend)

3.    The basis of the conversion will clearly require HMRC and potentially FCA permission.  The timescale will be in months rather than weeks. Our estimate is 3 months to 6 months from start to finish. However, it is hoped by all that it will be shorter

4.    Anyone considering paying monies over to Harlequin at this time needs to proceed with caution and obtain in country legal advice

5.    We have invited Harlequin to agree an advice review process for all financed / SIPP based investments. There is a general acceptance by Harlequin that some of the advice received by investors was very poor.  More details will follow on this process

6.    Those investors in abandoned projects such as Brazil will need to be reimbursed as part of the process.  Reimbursement could take the form of a roll over into the restructured Harlequin business

7.    Those investors holding Statutory Demands will need to be dealt with as part of the process.  They will need to be cleared to allow any Rescue Plan to proceed.

8.    The role of the Ames family / Harlequin Senior Management in any new structure will need to be understood

9.    The objective in the restructure is to facilitate the injection of a sizeable amount of monies to deal with existing problems whilst at the same time planning for the future. This is going to involve concessions from all parties.

The Harlequin Investor Group members viewed the meeting and the detail shared as both positive and welcome.  The devil is always in the detail and for now nothing has been agreed or offered.  However, when things start to progress investors need to be able to properly understand what they are being invited to agree to. The woeful explanation of the original contracts by advisers cannot be allowed to repeat itself again.

We will be receiving a more detailed description of the “Rescue Plan” next week. We will report to you with our comments on the 17th May 2013.

Speculation and a route forward

The statement comes after weeks of speculation into the future of the beleaguered property group. During which, the UK sales arm has gone into administration, the SFO have been investigating the group and the court case in Ireland rumbles. There has also been a series of investor meetings amid mounting negative publicity.

Speaking to Investment Sense, Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal said: “Nothing will work unless investors are in agreement. Therefore, every option is being considered to facilitate an orderly future for Harlequin.”

Fatchett continued: “The alternative is a straight liquidation of the remaining Harlequin business. That is the scenario which will become a reality unless a rescue occurs.”

Only time will tell whether a viable “Rescue Plan” can be developed. The many thousands of people, who have invested a reported £250 million, will certainly be hoping this announcement is the beginning of the end of their nightmare.