Friday, September 19, 2008

Ocean Estates - The Poseidon Adventure?

This week we take a look at what Ocean Estates is (or perhaps isn't) up to. As the title would suggest is a tale of much peril and trepidation.

Ocean Estates has been around for some 22 years under different owners and guises, of late though, it all seems to be coming to an end with their application for voluntary liquidation of the main business.

A different story from that of Viva Estates that we reported on last week with Ocean having had the foresight to spread its wings into the international market much quicker than its main rival of the times.

The problems that have finally bought it all to a head of late however are interesting to say the least. Earlier this year, there was talk of a takeover of Ocean Estates by none other than Hestiun, "Official Leisure Property Development Partner of Manchester United" under the name of "Royal Resorts"

After much negotiation and book checking however, this threw up a little problem, an outstanding tax bill dating back several years, as a result Hestiun quite rightly pulled out. Well done Hestiun. What has been left behind though is a bit of a mess to say the least.

Ocean still has its' Thai operation running. This was a separate entity from the very start, does very well and provides a fantastic service for clients in Thailand. On trawling around the forums, speaking with a number of agents and ex employees, Ocean Estates Spain does seem to be in rather a pickle.

In a nutshell, Ocean has filed for voluntary liquidation after the outstanding tax bill having been thrown up be the Hestiun/Royal Resorts audit prior to the offer to buy out. The tax bill in question is apparently in the realms of 200k or so. (Not a lot in the high flying world of international real estate!)

Whilst the proposed buy out was being drawn up, much of the Ocean data and sales material was moved over to the new operation, along with a number of members of staff all smiling as they went. At the same time, all of Oceans referring agents (Lead generators) were all being told "All is good, commissions will be through shortly, send us your invoices and we'll get them paid"

Needless to say the situation now for many of those agents is not good at all. The initial filing for liquidation took place around April time this year. To date there is still no resolve. Some agents were asked to "keep sending leads, they will get dealt with" When pushed for payment by agents, Ocean eventually declared the liquidation filing (After requesting invoices for payment) and simply threw up their hands saying it "Was all in the hands of the courts now" Of course, you can't submit the same invoice for payment to another company whilst it's being held up by the courts, so many agents are not thrilled at all.

The Public have not been amused with Oceans antics either, looking at the very popular forum on Eye on Spain there are a number of very unhappy folk, some of which are also ex staff.

Will Ocean survive? Unlikely. As slow as Spain can be in processing paperwork and filings for this kind of thing, if they were able to trade out of the hole, they would have done by now. Ocean is down to one main director as far as we are aware, Paul Blagden who busily fields the calls from agents wanting payment. The Banus office is still there (just) but really just waiting for the final wave to crash over it and drag it to the bottom of the sea.

Why has this happened? The tax situation in Spain is open to much interpretation to say the least having several loopholes in it. What you cannot do though is just say "Oh we didn't know" and expect the tax man to say "Oh that's alright then"

Next week The number of stories out there are extensive to say the least, we still have Red Hot Homes to cover, (We are awaiting confirmation on a couple of things before we bring you that story, please be patient) Polaris is being looked at as we write, and we are compiling something about the various forums out there concerning the real estate industry, both public and insider. Can they be taken seriously? We shall see!

1 comment:

investmentpropertyrumours said...

We have had a comment on this post today which we feel needs publishing to bring some opinion from an ex member of Ocean staff.

This bit is not quite right!

None of the staff that went to hestiun went "smiling". Those that did go, me included, were only going to ensure we received our outstanding wages from Ocean having been given an ultimatum to come to hestiun or "**** off!" So not fair of you to imply that the staff were in anyway up to no good!