Bunhill: Aborted take-off

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The Independent Online
THIS week's prize for identifying a lost cause after the event goes to Southampton accountant John Maguire.

As a senior councillor at Eastleigh he was naturally an interested spectator of the efforts of Peter de Savary to develop land round Southampton Airport.

His Highlands Participants group bought the airport for a nominal pounds 2 - plus pounds 50m liabilities - from BAA in November 1988. Eighteen months later, he and his partner, London & Edinburgh Trust, leased back the buildings to BAA.

Meanwhile, de Savary had set up a holding company, Placeton, to mastermind a number of property developments, including the rest of the airport.

But by the end of 1990, Placeton had lost a cool pounds 78m, and by 1993 was attracting noises about possible breaches of banking covenants from its auditors.

Mr Maguire wins the prize for his remarks at last week's meeting of unsecured creditors of the grandiosely named Southampton Eastleigh Airport Developments, and the more shady-sounding Findhelp (sic) and Raktran, all three of which are now in administrative receivership.

'Having looked at the accounts of the companies involved . . . I can only conclude that it has been a complete shambles.'

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