Porter Davis creditors include CBA and founder’s horse thoroughbred group

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A new report into the collapse of Porter Davis shows the homebuilder owes the Commonwealth Bank $33 million and also has a debt to a company run by founder Anthony Roberts that is linked to his thoroughbred breeding business.

The new report shows the homebuilder had zero assets and had a bank account deficit of $533,664 at the time of its collapse late last month. Total debts for the main entity, PDH Group, is shown to be $28.88 million.

Porter Davis managing director Anthony Roberts.Credit: Chris Hopkins

Porter Davis, the country’s thirteenth biggest home builder, appointed liquidators from Grant Thornton on March 31 leaving 1700 homes unfinished in Victoria and Queensland. The group had taken deposits from a further 779 buyers.

The collapse has sparked calls for a change in how builders’ insurance is managed after it was revealed that the company had been tardy in filing its insurance policies, leaving several customers uninsured for their deposits.

Two new reports filed overnight shed new light on the group’s collapse.

The first details the group’s secured creditors which include CBA and other entities including some charities.

The report notes: “We have been advised that the total amount owing to the major secured creditor, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, across all entities in the group is $32,939,409.

“Our investigations are ongoing to determine if these debts are cross collateralised across the group.”

Roberts’ company Chesapeake Holdings is also listed as a secured creditor. However, no details have been provided of the quantum owed. Chesapeake Holdings is the owner of Chesapeake Thoroughbreds, according to company records kept with the corporate regulator.

Roberts is a well-known identity in the racing industry, operating Chesapeake Thoroughbreds for many years. He ceased being the chief executive officer of the group several years ago and has remained its largest shareholder and a company director.

A separate report filed overnight by liquidators to Porter Davis shows the group was in discussions about appointing liquidators for at least a week before its collapse without telling any customers.

A document filed overnight with the corporate regulator as part of the liquidation shows Porter Davis had engaged Deloitte to help it find liquidators in March.

The report shows that on March 23, Deloitte made contact with Grant Thornton to ask if the firm could undergo a check to ensure it had no conflicts of interest so it could take on the liquidation.

The involvement of Deloitte followed a sales process of the group that was conducted in February and run by a different insolvency and business advisory specialist, FTI Consulting.

The report shows that Porter Davis and Grant Thornton were in near-daily contact between March 23 and March 31 when the group appointed the firm as its liquidators.

Porter Davis’ director Bruno Santi held a telephone meeting with Grant Thornton on March 24 to discuss the potential appointment of Grant Thornton’s partners as liquidators to the companies. Grant Thornton’s partners attended another meeting later that day over Microsoft Teams with Santi, Roberts and fellow director Paul Wolff, according to the report. That evening, Grant Thornton was provided with access to Porter Davis’ books to obtain further background and other financial information regarding the operations of the group.

After the weekend of March 25-26, the discussions continued between the directors and the liquidators before a final meeting on March 30, the report shows.

“On Thursday, March 30 2023, Matt Byrnes, Said Jahani and another Grant Thornton staff member attended the head office of the PDH Group and met in person for the first time with the directors and senior members of the PDH Group management. The purpose of the meeting was to obtain further background on the PDH Group, and to discuss our potential appointment as liquidators.”

Roberts, Santi and Wolff were contacted for comment. The CBA declined to comment.

The reports contain no new information about the process to replace builders for home buyers. Grant Thornton released late last week a panel of builders who had agreed to take on completing partly constructed homes.

On Monday, however, Porter Davis liquidators announced that up to 375 Melbourne homes would be built after selling the company’s multiple-dwelling business to Nostra Property Group (NPG).

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