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Keating Construction’s collapse has left debts in excess of €30m.

In the past week, liquidation was granted for the West Clare company which was founded in 1987. The marine, civil engineering and building firm had offices dotted around Ireland and the United Kingdom and developed a reputation as a leading multidisciplinary contractor in engineering.

Employees at the Kilmihil plant were informed on Friday that the High Court was lifting court protection and that a liquidation process was to ensue, this will entitle workers to a statutory redundancy. Court protection had been sought due to pressure from creditors, in August 2019 some creditors were owed a combined €9.9m.

An examinership process led by KPMG failed to yield any potential saviours for the company after it unearthed debts of €30m which will be nursed by creditors. Only two Keating companies – L & M Keating Ltd and Kilmihil Rental Store – were subject to the examinership application.

Prior to the discovery of financial woes of the company in July, Keating had up to 200 employees, between 20 to 25 of which were located at its Co Clare offices up until July. L&M Keating had 91 full-time employees, 45 of which were temporarily laid off when plants closed, no direct employees were attached to Kilmihil Rental.

Louis Keating founded the Clare company and established a very successful operation. He sold L&M Keating in 2018 at a time when it had a turnover of €60m.

It was acquired by Dublin based CBD Capital who led an extensive rebranding and appointed Gordon O’Regan as CEO and Managing Director. O’Regan was headhunted to run the company, speaking in April 2018 he confirmed work had began on a five-year business plan, “We hope this plan will see us double turnover from €67m now to about €120m in five years’ time. Organic growth here in Ireland will be a part of that but a lot of that growth will be in the UK”.

O’Regan departed the company in the early part of 2020 and is now the Managing Director of United Living New Homes.

CBD Capital had intended to build on the earnings of €7.7m in 2018. They earmarked diversifying into higher-margin and European markets as ways to drive revenues to €150 million by 2025, with the target to increase earnings to €12 million.

Members of the Executive team including Lorchan Hoyne (operations director), Ian Lynch (HSEQ manager) and Keith Conmy (civils contract manager) left their posts in recent months to take up new roles with Monami Construction, Erith Contractors and Glenveagh Properties Ltd respectively. O’Regan’s successor as Managing Director, Marcus Carne departed his position in December.

A High Court sitting in October heard that a detailed report from an independent expert expressed the view Keating had a reasonable prospect of survival post restructuring based on the fundamental strength of their core marine engineering business and subject to a number of conditions. The companies projections for 2020 revealed a fall in turnover of about 70 per cent and a total Ebitda loss for the year of some €3.6 million.

Significant contracts had been won by Keating as part of its expansion into the UK market, it had expected to benefit from the UK’s increased investment in its ports as a result of Brexit. They were contracted to receive revenues of €6 million before the end of 2020 and a further €5 million for 2021/22 with a pipeline of projects including the €14m County Library in Ennis, however Clare County Council will have to appoint a new tender following Keating’s financial difficulties.

Questions have been raised by employees as to where the finance obtained from selling equipment and their plants in recent times will go.

Multiple efforts from The Clare Echo to contact a representative of Keating and KPMG proved unsuccessful.

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