Why bank called in receiver

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STANDARD Chartered Bank called in the receiver to Peter de Savary's property empire because it believed Placeton, his main private company, no longer had sufficient funds to continue trading, writes John Murray.

A spokesman for Standard said the bank had been keeping an eye on the company for nearly three years.

The timing of the collapse surprised some observers, given the pick-up in the property market, but it is understood to have been precipitated by Mr de Savary's failure to sell enough assets to keep Placeton afloat, and by the qualification of its accounts by Casson Beckman, the auditor.

Last October, the accountancy firm said the preparation of the accounts on an ongoing basis might not be appropriate given its losses and uncertainty over the value of its assets. Placeton lost pounds 78m in 1990.

Standard believes the assets, which include the Port Pendennis development in Cornwall and Southampton airport, can be sold for good prices in due course. Mr de Savary has already disposed of other Placeton properties.