Bank hopes to restart stalled €100m school-building project

MUFG says it is exploring solutions to continue construction of six southeast schools

The schools’ original builder, Sammon Construction Ireland, went into liquidation this week. Photograph: iStock

The schools’ original builder, Sammon Construction Ireland, went into liquidation this week. Photograph: iStock

 

One of the banks funding a €100 million State school-building programme, stalled by the collapse of UK giant Carillion, says it is working with the authorities on efforts to restart construction.

Sources claim MUFG (formerly Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank) and German institution Helaba, which loaned money to the project, are behind delays in restarting work on the six schools in the southeast, which now fear they will to miss their September opening.

MUFG said yesterday it was continuing to explore solutions to get the schools completed and was in regular contact with the State’s National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) and other parties.

“We understand the importance of this project to all of the school communities and remain hopeful that this can be achieved satisfactorily,” the bank added.

The NDFA – which contracted for the work on the Department of Education’s behalf – confirmed this week that it met both banks and stressed to them the importance of getting construction finished on time.

Work on finishing the five schools and an institute of education in counties Carlow, Meath, Wexford and Wicklow was meant to begin this month to ensure their completion by September.

Sammon liquidation

The schools’ original builder, Sammon Construction Ireland, went into liquidation this week as uncertainty grew over the prospect that a joint bid by it and building group BAM to finish the work would succeed.

Dutch Infrastructure Fund, Carillion’s partner in Inspired Spaces, which won the original contract to build the schools and manage them once they opened, said it was considering various bids to finish construction.

Rivals Sisk and JJ Rhatigan are said to be in the running for this. BAM, publicly named with Sammon as a front runner for that contract, has yet to confirm if it remains in the race now that its prospective partner is in liquidation.

Inspired Spaces hired a Carillion subsidiary to build the schools. That company, in turn, recruited Sammon. Following Carillion’s £7 billion implosion in January, work halted.

Sammon was left without vital cashflow. The High Court appointed Grant Thornton managing partner Michael McAteer as examiner to the group in April. Earlier this week, the ongoing uncertainty forced him to seek Sammon’s liquidation this week.