Ivy Lee Realty fighting application to wind up firm

The Devonshire 8 site (above). The realty firm of Ms Ivy Lee (left) put up options, including for 29 condo units, as security for a loan.
The Devonshire 8 site (above). The realty firm of Ms Ivy Lee put up options, including for 29 condo units, as security for a loan.ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG, FILE
The Devonshire 8 site (above). The realty firm of Ms Ivy Lee (left) put up options, including for 29 condo units, as security for a loan.
The Devonshire 8 site. The realty firm of Ms Ivy Lee (above) put up options, including for 29 condo units, as security for a loan.

The realty firm of Ms Ivy Lee, one of Singapore's top real estate agents, is fending off an application to wind up the company. The plaintiff is MWA Capital, a licensed moneylender.

Both parties were in the High Court yesterday as MWA Capital said it was proceeding with its application. But the hearing was postponed to allow both sides to make their arguments.

Ms Lee is the sole director and shareholder of her realty firm.

It has handled such deals as the $131.5 million collective sale of Hong Leong Garden Condominium in March 2007. Its website lists more than 50 projects that it has marketed - including Woodgrove condo, where it sold all 248 units in 1998.

According to the loan agreement document, Ivy Lee Realty borrowed $10 million from MWA on July 4 last year, with the interest rate set at 5 per cent a month.

As security for the loan, the company put up options, including for the 29 unsold units at Devonshire 8, a 30-unit condo it is developing which is slated for 2017 completion.

Should the firm fail to pay the loan, interest or late interest, MWA was said to be entitled to exercise the options to secure repayment.

In December, Ivy Lee Realty also assigned to MWA rights regarding sale proceeds of the units, among others.

When it failed to pay up, MWA applied in May for summary judgment for the $10 million.

On Aug 3, Justice Woo Bih Li granted judgment of the sum of $6.7 million against Ivy Lee Realty.

"(MWA) is continuing with proceedings for the remainder of principal loan, interest and late interest," general manager Siaw Ten Ten said in an affidavit.

Ivy Lee Realty also has yet to pay the $6.7 million, she added, which led to the winding-up application.

However, Ms Lee said in an affidavit that she has found offers for Devonshire 8 at prices of $25.8 million to $31 million - higher than the $21.98 million that an unnamed party recently offered the provisional liquidators. "It is clear (the firm) would be better able to realise the value of Devonshire 8 than liquidators would in the event of winding up."

Three valuation reports have put the value of the property at about $25 million to $31 million, while another marketing proposal by Savills estimated the gross development value of the project to be $55 million to $60 million, she said.

MWA has appointed provisional liquidators, who are being represented by Mr Christopher Woo of Quahe Woo & Palmer. Mr Woo noted in court yesterday that Ms Lee has declined to grant the provisional liquidators access to the company's accounts.

Mr R. Nandakumar of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, who is representing MWA, said in court: "The company is insolvent under the cash flow test. It is clear the company does not have the funds to pay the judgment sum."

Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, representing Ivy Lee Realty, said in court: "It is not a straightforward matter. While the cash flow test is satisfied, this is a property holding firm with a large property asset. We have put in valuations to show the value of the assets the company holds far exceeds its debts."

But the property is effectively still unsold, and has been on the market for about 11/2 years, argued Mr Nandakumar.

The case is before High Court Justice Belinda Ang, who is fixing another date for the hearing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Ivy Lee Realty fighting application to wind up firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe