Auckland developer declared bankrupt

By Kieran Campbell

The only asset owned by one of Layne Kells' liquidated companies is a Jura S9 Coffee Machine. Photo / Supplied
The only asset owned by one of Layne Kells' liquidated companies is a Jura S9 Coffee Machine. Photo / Supplied

An Auckland developer whose failed businesses owe more than $100 million has been declared bankrupt - and the only asset owned by one of his liquidated companies is a small coffee machine.

Layne Kells, who was declared bankrupt last week, owes millions of dollars because of his failed projects, including the $250m Soho Square development in Ponsonby.

The majority of the money is owed by different liquidated businesses, although the debt includes a personal guarantee by Mr Kells of $23m to Fortress Credit Corporation.

Fortress has been repaid $16.6m since the sale of the doomed Ponsonby site but is still owed $6.4m.

Mr Kells' bankruptcy comes almost three years after the failure of his ambitious Soho Square project, which left a giant hole on the 1.3ha Ponsonby site he had hoped to fill with dozens of retail shops, apartments and offices.

The site was bought by supermarket owners Progressive Enterprises last year but more than $77m was left owing by Mr Kells' four companies that operated the Soho development.

The Auckland businessman also has other liquidated companies that owe most of their money to banks.

The Kells-owned Marlin Property Consultants was placed into liquidation on March 16 with more than $120,000 owed to Inland Revenue.

The liquidator's report on the business said the company's sole asset was a small coffee machine - a $3500 Jura S9 bought from Cafe Express in 2008.

Mr Kells' Gulf Harbour Marlin company owed $44m to creditors, liquidator Simon Dalton said.

Land and properties, estimated to be valued about $4m, are being sold to fund repayments to creditors.

Attempts to contact Mr Kells today were unsuccessful.

Specific details of his bankruptcy were not available to the public, a spokesman for the Insolvency and Trustee Service said.

Typically bankruptcy, which lasts at least three years, restricts a person from leaving the country, managing a business or being employed by a relative without permission.

Mr Kells will be ordered to make payments towards debt and forced to surrender his assets.

He will be entitled to keep the "necessary tools of trade", necessary household furniture, a motor vehicle worth no more than $5000 and money up to $1000.

- APNZ

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