William O'Dwyer's Ralan hits voluntary administration

William O'Dwyer's Ralan hits voluntary administration
William O'Dwyer's Ralan hits voluntary administration

The Ralan Group, one of the country's biggest private apartment developers, has fallen into administration with debts estimated at around $500 million. 

Falling victim to sluggish unit prices amid a tough sales environment, the collapse will trigger job losses in the already east coast contracting construction industry.

Grant Thornton have been appointed to the group’s 58 companies, which undertakes developments of apartments across Sydney and serviced apartments on the Gold Coast.

The group's current project is 213 Princes Highway, Arncliffe (above) designed by Stephen Bowers Architects.

The project is backed by Westpac and the Melbourne-based non-bank lender Wingate.

Its head office was in Chatswood. 

The first creditors meeting will be held in Sydney on August 9.

The little known company founder, the Welsh-born William O’Dwyer, 53, is Bellevue Hill based where he owns a $5.7 million home.

He has been involved in the development of property since 1993, then founding The Ralan Group in 1998. 

He prided himself of "maintaining a hands on approach to each and every Ralan project."

The Ralan Group currently has a development pipeline of over 3,000 residential units which are in the construction or pre-sale stage.

The administrators are undertaking an urgent financial assessment of the group. 

“In terms of the operating businesses within the group, it is as far as possible, business as usual.

"We are working closely with key stakeholders to identify and preserve value for creditors,” said Said Jahani from Grant Thornton Australia.

Ralan sought to develop up to 600 apartments annually, concentrating on Sydney. At one staged Ralan had 11 sites underway on the North Shore, including a $13 million site in Killara. 

In 2015, he spent $95 million on Surfers Paradise properties and quickly becoming one of the Gold Coast’s biggest landholders. 

His big ongoing project was a $1.4 billion integrated residential and resort precinct at Surfers Paradise, the Ruby which was potentially set to span an entire city block.  

It was reported last year that Ruby buyers were facing difficulty in securing loan applications following a decline in valuation of up to 30 per cent.

Ralan's recent site purchases in Sydney included Turramurra where after spending $1.8 million on a 5,900 sqm site, it completed a six level, 83 apartment complex. 

There have been projects in Camperdown, Rhodes, Mascot, Wahroonga, Concord and Beaconsfield over the last two decades.

The collapse of Ralan is the latest of builders and developers experiencing financial difficulties since the property market slowdown began in 2017.

Martin North, from consultancy firm Digital Finance analytics, says there is "more bad news to come for developers."

He noted the slump in apartment demand arose from less buying interest from investors and foreign buyers, along with tighter lending criteria.

There was also concerns of buyers of off plan apartments who are not able or willing to complete purchases, North said.  

Just three years ago Ralan sold almost 100 in Lindfield and Roseville within 21 days of registering the strata plan.

“It’s obvious the demand is there and it’s obvious Australians are still having a love affair with property in Sydney,” Mr O'Dwyer suggested.

This article was first published in the Daily Telegraph.




Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

Administration The Ralan Group

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