FILE PHOTO: Mark Peart.
FILE PHOTO: Mark Peart. Contributed

Liquidation for Peart's multi-million dollar land venture

A LAND development company headed by Toowoomba businessman Mark Peart that was to undertake a multimillion-dollar project north of Toowoomba has been tipped into liquidation.

Homestead Highfields was placed in voluntary administration by Mr Peart on April 21.

At a second meeting of creditors on Tuesday, creditors knocked back a proposal from company directors Mr Peart, his wife Fiona, and Grant Allsop to enter into a Deed of Company Arrangement.

The vote paves the way for former administrator-now liquidator Jason Bettles of Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants to investigate the reasons behind the company's collapse.

Homestead Highfields is the fifth of Mr Peart's ventures to fall into external administration in the past 19 months.

According to Worrells' current figures, the company has no assets, and owes 10 unsecured creditors $526,192.
Creditors include BRC Property Group, Millwell Services, Moella Pty Ltd, Murray and Lyons Solicitors, Peartland Pty Ltd, Power Tynan, RMA Engineers, and RMA Soils.

In his advice ahead of a second meeting of creditors, Mr Bettles recommended the company be liquidated, and pointed out that under a best case liquidation scenario, creditors could see up to 60c in the dollar returned to them, as opposed to a Deed of Company Arrangement which would see a maximum 4.5c in the dollar.

According to Mr Peart's summary of the company's activities provided to Mr Bettles, the company was incorporated in November 2017 with the intention of undertaking a property development north of Toowoomba.

After securing $750,000 in equity funding and agreements for a further $12.3 million in funding from Trilogy Funds Management and $3 million from mezzanine funder LXM Capital Partners, the deal came unstuck when LXM Capital Partners advised they couldn't settle due to delays in redeeming capital in other investments.

Months later in July 2019, a second investment group that had been lined up for the deal pulled out at the last minute, the summary said.

A third potential lender that came forward in December 2019 pulled out after COVID-19 restrictions were implemented, the summary said.

The company being in liquidation means Mr Bettles will investigate whether the company's shares were fully paid out, whether it is in the creditors' best interest to take legal action against the second investment group, whether the business was trading while insolvent, and the recovery of any preferential payments.

He will also examine the commerciality of $417,884 paid from Homestead Highfields to Mr Peart's company Peartland Pty Ltd.

Mr Bettles said it appeared the company was trading while insolvent since July 2019.

He also noted the company had insufficient funds to meet the costs of further investigations and that he would need further funding from creditors.

Mr Peart and Mr Bettles were  contacted for comment. 

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