Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Report adds extra $1m to Ridge debts

By ANNE GIBSON

The debts of companies controlled by TV show participant Matthew Ridge have gone up nearly $1 million - from about $1.8 million late last week to nearly $2.8 million yesterday.

Liquidator Brendon Gibson has issued the first report on Ridge's Remuera apartment development company, Basset Rd.

This shows the company owes $1,447,000, well up on initial indications this week that the figure would be closer to $1 million.

The $1.4 million debt comes on top of losses from Ridge's first apartment development business, M3, which went under in March.

M3 was building units at 115 Remuera Rd.

A report from liquidator John Cregten shows M3 owes $1,343,133.

As controlling shareholder in both cases, Ridge is claiming more than $1.1 million from the two companies - $488,000 from Basset Rd and $666,489 from M3.

His car valet business Car-Fe is claiming a further $17,000.

Ridge, a panellist in TV One's Game of Two Halves sports quiz and a participant in the Touchdown Productions show City Celebrities, Country Nobodies, is a former Kiwis rugby league captain.


Mr Gibson's report shows that Basset Rd owes Inland Revenue $599,000 in GST.

Unsecured creditors - mainly builders and suppliers who worked on the Norfolk Manor apartment development in Remuera - want $360,000.

The company has assets of only $64,000, and Ridge said last week he could do little for people seeking money.

And he said that he would never again be involved in property development.

Inland Revenue is also interested in M3. It sent a team of three to a creditors' meeting in Auckland on April 29 which Ridge did not attend, chasing unpaid GST believed to be more than $300,000.

In untangling the financial mess from Basset Rd, Mr Gibson traced transactions back to May last year when M3 sold the Norfolk Manor site to his Basset Rd firm for $2,577,000.

Dominion Finance put up $7.5 million to finance the project, but problems arose with the first construction company.

Freemont Construction and Design took over building on a monthly basis with no contract, Mr Gibson said.

Because of construction delays, Ridge asked Dominion in July for more money.

But he was turned down because Dominion was "dissatisfied with the financial aspects of the construction arrangements in place on the development", Mr Gibson wrote.

Rumours arose about the possibility of the partially-completed block being sold, and Ridge got two offers for between $4 million and $5 million.

"The ongoing delays, costs of finance and inability to procure the necessary funding forced the director to sell the development," the liquidator wrote.

In August, Ridge sold the property to Queen City Property Group for $5 million, plus GST.

By then, he had spent $2,821,000 developing the property, but this was before interest on the money borrowed from Dominion.

After the sale, Dominion took the GST portion of the sale proceeds in repayment of its debt "against the directors' wishes".

"At that point, it was clear the company would need to be liquidated as there were no funds to pay the GST."

Freemont, an unsecured creditor, is listed as being owed $302,000 but Mr Gibson said the builder's final invoice was disputed.

A full report was being prepared and would be available to creditors in eight to 10 weeks, Mr Gibson said. The liquidation would be completed by April.

The paper trail

Basset Rd went into liquidation on November 3.

M3 went under on March 25.

The companies owe almost $2.8 million.

Of that, Matthew John Ridge is claiming more than $1.1 million.

He is the sole director and shareholder of MJR, which owns 95 per cent of Basset Rd.

He holds the remaining 5 per cent in his own name.

He is the sole director of M3, which is 55 per cent owned by MJR and 5 per cent owned by Ridge directly. The remainder is owned by Mark Maiden and Stephen Tee.

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