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Greatearth, a troubled construction company, is being wound down – just a week after the shock closing of five Build-To–Order (BTO), project sites that left approximately 2,900 buyers facing lengthy delays in their homes.

This move will likely leave many sub-contractors in an untenable position, with very few avenues to recover the losses.

The winding up process began when Mr Goh Eng Hwee (director of Greatearth Corporation & Greatearth Construction) filed a statutory declaration declaring that the company was insolvent.

The winding up of three related companies – Greatearth Holding, Greatearth Holding, and Universal EC Investments – is also underway.

PwC, a professional services firm, was appointed provisional executor on Friday (Sept 3,). On Sept 27, a creditors meeting will take place.

Greatearth Corporation was the principal contractor for the affected BTO projects. They total 2,982 units. Sky Vista @ Bukit Batok and Senja Heights and Senja Ridges at Bukit Panjang as well as Marsiling Grove and West Coast Parkview, Clementi.

The work at the sites was stopped on August 20.

Many sub-contractors are suffering heavy losses from Greatearth’s contracting fees.

The Straits Times was told by some that they were locked out of the site and cannot retrieve valuable building materials, such as steel components, that have not been paid for.

Lam Zhen Yu, an insolvency lawyer from Withers KhattarWong, said that the liquidators would assess Greatearth’s financial situation and determine if it has assets that could be sold to raise money for creditors.

He said that sub-contractors had few options other than to wait for the outcome of liquidation.

He said that secured creditors (mainly banks and financial institutions) and employers of Greatearth will have a higher priority when it comes to receiving payment than the sub-contractors.

Mr Loh pointed out that when a company like Greatearth is facing financial difficulties, it can seek relief via various approaches, such as judicial management and schemes of arrangement. However, the firm did not appear to have pursued these options.

“In the case Greatearth there was probably a realization that the debts were so overwhelming that it wouldn’t be possible to save them,” stated Mr Loh.

Housing Board informed home buyers that projects would be delayed but did not give a time frame.

It stated that new contractors will be hired as soon as possible in order to complete the work.

These projects were already delayed by supply and manpower disruptions in construction caused by the pandemic.

Greatearth was also the main contractor on two public projects currently facing potential delays: the Mandai Crematorium, Columbarium, and the Gali Batu bus station.

In 1981, Greatearth Construction was incorporated as Greatearth Corporation.

United Engineers Limited (UEL), acquired Greatearth Construction in 1990.

UEL split off its electrical and mechanical engineering construction businesses in 2011 and listed them on Singapore Exchange under UE E&C. They were eventually privatised and delisted by 2015.

UE E&C was renamed Greatearth to focus on its core business, which is property development, engineering, and construction.

This locally-owned company has been involved in more than 400 projects including Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine campuses at Boon Lay and Novena.

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