Questions raised over Polly Peck disposal

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The Independent Online
THE administrators of Polly Peck International, Asil Nadir's tangerines-to-televisions empire, turned down an offer for the group's Sheraton Voyager Hotel in Antalya, southern Turkey, which was around pounds 4m higher than the bid actually accepted.

The administrators, Richard Stone and Michael Jordan of Coopers & Lybrand and Christopher Morris of Touche Ross, announced in August that they had signed heads of agreement to sell the Voyager to Dogus Holding, a privately-owned Turkish construction group. The sale is due to be completed later this month.

The price has not been disclosed but is understood to be around dollars 40m ( pounds 24m), substantially less than the pounds 76m spent on the hotel by Polly Peck when it was built two years ago.

However, a rival consortium put together by London Group, an investment company based in Belgravia, says it put in an offer, understood to be more than dollars 45m, which was rejected by the administrators.

When contacted by the Independent on Sunday, Mr Stone admitted London Group did put in a higher offer than Dogus, but that it was submitted after tenders had closed.

However, the Insolvency Act requires that administrators accept the highest offer for assets in the interests of the creditors of the company. Mr Stone said he accepted this, but that at the time the higher bid came in from London Group, the administrators had entered into a legally binding agreement with Dogus.

The arguments over the bids for the Voyager could prove embarrassing for Mr Stone and Mr Jordan, who this week face a disciplinary hearing at the Institute of Chartered Accountants over their roles as administrators of Polly Peck.

Mr Stone and Mr Jordan are accused of breaching guidelines by taking on the Polly Peck insolvency when they had a potential conflict of interest. Coopers & Lybrand advised Polly Peck and its chairman, Mr Nadir, on tax issues.

If found guilty, they could lose their insolvency practitioners' licences, which would prevent them from working on future insolvencies.