Irish renewable energy company Solar 21 has hired an insolvency expert and forensic accountant as a “proxy” for investors in a bid to “reset” its relationships with brokers and their clients after weeks of speculation.
John McStay, of McStay Luby Chartered Accountants in Dublin, was introduced to brokers on a video call on Friday morning by Solar 21 co-founder and chief executive Michael Bradley.
Mr Bradley said the company had decided to bring in Mr McStay as “somebody completely independent” to review the work being done by its leadership team to dispose of assets in an effort to repay investors who have pumped £300 million into the company through loan notes sold to investors by brokers across the country.
Solar 21, which did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, in 2021 began delaying payments due to some investors on loan notes related to a UK waste-to-energy project that it said had been held up by planning and supply-chain issues. The company subsequently began a process to sell some assets in order to repay investors and had promised to update brokers and their clients on their progress in March this year.
On a call with some 200 brokers on Friday morning, Mr McStay, who also did not respond to a request for comment, said he had seen Solar 21′s plan to sell the assets.
He said that London law firm Addleshaw Goddard, which is representing Solar 21, had engaged with the company and with Mr McStay and “they’re within a couple of weeks of being able to put comprehensive plans in front of everybody”.
Mr McStay told the meeting: “My role is slightly unusual in that I’ve been asked by Solar, who are paying my fees – and I need to emphasise that to everybody – they have asked me to talk to you today, but also to report as an independent professional to the investors and explain how that’s going to work.” He said his job was to act as “proxy representative of the investors” and put questions to the company on their behalf.
Mr McStay said: “Obviously, the core problem is that the envisaged project didn’t proceed and probably for that reason more than any other there has been a lot of speculation and, probably seen through your eyes, not enough clear information and evidence as to what is happening.”
However, he said: “Solar wants to try to reset all of the relationships with you and with your clients. And logically, with almost 3,000 investors, that can’t be done on a one-to-one basis. So what is envisaged is some form of a collective process whereby information will be provided.”
Mr Bradley did not take questions at the meeting. He told the brokers on the call that Mr McStay was “fully independent, and we are fully feeding back to him with, you know, huge transparency, anything you need to say”. He said Solar 21 had been working on an “orderly sales plan” for the assets for more than a year.
Founded by Mr Bradley and his brother, Andrew Bradley, the Rathcoole-based company had more than £49 million of assets on its books at the end of 2020.