Firm hoping to bring aviation back to Manston airport restructures to ditch Belize majority shareholding

The Manston airport site Photo Frank Leppard

Documents have been submitted for the first deadline of the Planning Inspectorate examination of the Development Consent Order application by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners to gain compulsory buy-out powers over the Manston airport site.

The firm says it wants to revive aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business. The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory buy-out powers over the land.

The Manston airport site is owned by Stone Hill Park which has lodged an application to develop housing, leisure and business on the land.

This month a preliminary hearing and three open floor sessions were held with representations from groups including Save Manston Airport association and No Night Flights as well as residents, businesses and councillors.

A publication timetable followed and submissions for the first deadline are now available on the PINs website.

Belize registration

A cover letter from RSP to the Planning Inspectorate reveals it is restructuring in response to concerns about its funding vehicle M.I.O Investments Limited, which holds 90% of shares in the company but is registered in Belize.

The remaining 10% of its shares are held by RiverOak Manston Ltd

M.I.O Investments Limited ultimate beneficial owners are resident in Switzerland and the UK. It is managed and administered by Helix Fiduciary AG, a Swiss registered and regulated fiduciary company.

According to the funding statement submitted for RSP: “Helix also manages and controls all the investors’ funds that provide the funding for the Manston DCO. MIO has access to committed and unencumbered funds to ensure the completion of the DCO …totalling £13,600,000, but in fact £15 million has been committed.”

The statement says RSP had spent £9million on the DCO process at the time of the report publication.

But concerns have been raised that the Belize registered company means a lack of transparency as Belize will not disclose its banking or fiscal information to any foreign party and has no reporting requirements.

In the letter to PINs RSP say this has led to a restructuring of the ownership of RSP with UK registration, which is currently still in process.

A funding statement for RSP, submitted for the first DCO deadline, says: “The intention is that RSP’s parent company will be registered in the UK with full transparency as to its directors and shareholders. The restructuring is currently in process and is subject to commercial confidentiality but it is anticipated that it will be complete and that further details can be put into the public domain by Deadline 3 (8 February).“

The current directors of RSP are Nicholas Rothwell, Rico Seitz and Gerhard Huesler – all residents of Switzerland, Niall Lawlor and George Yerrall, US residents and Anthony Freudmann, UK resident.

Funding

Further details about RSP funding requested for the January 18 deadline will now be submitted by deadline 3 (February 15), says RSP.

These include accounts, shareholders, investors and proof of assets.

The RSP funding statement says that a request for details of the funders who have already expressed interest and others that are likely to come forward is “commercially sensitive particularly during the current restructure, but the funders will be approached for permission for their names to be made known.” They say “it is hoped that this information can be provided at Deadline 3”.

However, the funding statement states interest as coming from investors based in the UK, the Far East and North America, adding: “The profile of the various interested institutional investors includes entities with extensive broad-based aviation investments, in terms of aircraft leasing portfolios, but also with extensive airport infrastructure interests combining investment ownership, airport management, airport construction, expansion and airport masterplanning.”

Manston costs

The funding statement submitted on behalf of RSP lays out predicted costs of the project as £100 million for the first phase, adding: “The cost of developing the remaining phases of the project over a 15-year period is estimated to be an additional £200 million, i.e. a total of £300 million.

“This cost estimate includes the cost of implementing the project, the cost of construction and the funding of the acquisition of the necessary rights over land, including any interference with rights.”

It says compensation for the compulsory take over of the Manston airport site, owned by Stone Hill Park, would be “no more than £7.5 million.”

There are also estimated payments due to noise mitigation estimated at insulation policy and Part I claims: £4m for up to 1000 properties at £4000 each and relocation costs of £1.6m for up to eight properties.

The statement says a sum of £500,000 for blight claims is secured in RSP accounts now.

A letter from Helix Fiduciary AG states its  financial support to complete the DCO and airport purchase, blight claims and compensation for an estimated £15 million.

The examination process will run between now and the completion date on July 9.

Find the examination timetable here

34 Comments

  1. The Planning Inspectorate warned RSP of its shortcomings wrt funding when it wrote to RSP in August last year. They’ve had 4 months to show where the money is. Yet again, they’ve failed to do so.
    Several years ago, the then ROIC failed to secure TDC’s approval for a Compulsory Purchase Order because, amongst other things, ROIC wouldn’t or couldn’t show TDC where the money was.
    A couple of years later, RSP (similar Directors to ROIC, but UK/Belize based) failed to convince a new Administration at TDC that they were the right sort of people to enter into a CPO partnership .. for largely the same reasons. RSP either would not, or could not, show where the money was. If any.
    Now they’re at it again.
    How dreadfully inconvenient for all concerned that somehow or other, RSP with only 4 month’s notice, felt it must start restructuring its business; so information flagged by the PI as being urgently required was unavailable. Again.
    But we already know that RSP don’t have the vast majority of the money needed to develop the airport. They say so in their own documentation. Their plan is to put the cart before the horse: to get Compulsory Acquisition, THEN tout round investors and banks for the missing £300,000,000,00.
    And they think they can run an airport?

      • Andrew, is the DCO still on track? Are the planning inspectorate still engaged with RSP ? Is the schedule for the DCO being adhered to ? Please don’t bore us with what the widely discredited, corrupt, incompetent small time players like TDC havecto say on the matter. Look at the serious boys, they apparently are satisfied with RSP’s bona fides !

    • What might that be? Fruedman actually coming up with the goods at the 4th time of asking.

      I believe this is the 3rd restructuring, and i thought the claim from the zealots was that £500 million was available?

      Yet now we are now down to a paltry £15 million.

      Surely RSP and Fruedman cannot in any meaningful way have any credibility left…

  2. Andrew, with respect, I think you’ve misunderstood a) how investment and equity companies work and b) how the DCO works. Here’s an analogy – If you’re going for a new job, do you tell your present employer before you go for the interview? No! (unless you’re in education, which is different). No, you wait until there is a guarantee you’ve got the job. Then declare it. It’s the same with most investments, CPOs and DCOs. Investors examine the business plan and if they like what they see, pledge their money, but don’t reveal their identities until further along in the process.

    • Peter (with respect) the questions were posed by the Planning Inspectorate and the Examining Authority.
      In this case a private enterprise (RSP) is trying to use a government vehicle (NSIP/DCO/CA) to get its hands on someone else’s land. RSP (or it’s Principals) failed twice before to secure a CPO via TDC, because they didn’t have the money.
      Now they’re trying via the DCO/CA process, and they *still* don’t have the money.
      Quite rightly, the ExA is very keen to make sure that should Compulsory Acquisition be granted, RSP will be in a position to meet all its financial obligations to the current owners, and be able the NSIP which triggered the CA.
      Clearly, RSP have not to date so demonstrated, and the ExA is right to press this point.

  3. By now it must have dawned on RSP followers that RSP are chancers and don’t have the means or the capability nor honesty to fool PINS build or manage an airport as they have tried to do with TDC and other organisations. They simply do not ring true and unprofessional.

  4. If they really have all that money why didn’t they just buy it from Ann Gloag in the first place as a ‘going’ concern?
    And just because they’re changing from Belize to UK how will the ExA, or any interested party, be able to verify their recent business and financial activities?

  5. At the end of the day, time will tell. We’ll either have an airport with employment within and from related businesses or thousands of new houses filled mostly with people looking for a job. Well, actually I suspect only some of them will be looking but that’s another issue. The SHP proposals do of course include ‘business units’ but in my opinion that’s just because it makes the proposals look more attractive. There are loads of units in Thanet already and having a building for a business does not actully make a business. It is more likely that the current housing numbers will swell and the businesses will never materialise.

    • For goodness sake! How many more times!! Thanet gets the houses anyway with or without an airport!!!
      We get houses, or we get houses and an airport!!!!

  6. Chancers trying to pull a fast one to get UK money while being resident in Switzerland and registered in Belize. It’s the new “Global Britain” that Brexiters promised! The British public struggles to get low waged jobs but the chancers walk away to their tax havens with the cash. It’s our Brexit future!

  7. I love the way some of the Anti Manston Airport brigade grab at straws when proof against their arguments are put in front of them, they try and twist every sinew of evidence which makes their arguments even more far fetched. It’s time for them to admit they made a mistake in buying their properties in East Kent without the knowledge of the fact an airport was in our region. the one who moans it will affect her writing books should not worry as she has only published two articles in on magazine so hardly a esteemed writer, who knows the airport when up and running could give her some inspirations and help her produce some new material other than her relationship.

    • In reply to the 12.36 comment, I haven’t yet seen any proof that the arguments for not having an airport are wrong. Hasn’t the above commenter read any of the reports concluding that Manston is the wrong place for a successful airport to be developed? Has he or she read the evidence that aircraft noise and pollution have very bad effects on people’s physical and mental health?

      I knew when I moved here that there was a failing little airport nearby. I saw and heard the planes flying over Ramsgate. Since the airport closed, that terrifying noise and sight has stopped. I hope planes will never fly from Manston again. And so do thousands of other local residents.

      Do those who want RSP’s plans to succeed really miss the noise of planes over Ramsgate? Do they miss the sight of planes just above our rooftops?

      If so, why?

  8. Somebody should check up on these directors past businesses to see how well they conducted them. My suspicion is that Failure, Failed, Gone bust and Booted out, along with Struck-off and Special measures are used a bit by some of the companies that are owed millions. Try googling Tony Freudmann for starters! They have no idea at how to run any business well, nevermind anything aviation. They have just a sprinkling of borrowed money used as a carrot to entice support. Offshore spur-of-the-moment made-up companies by dodgy geezers in Belize and now Switzerland too smells a bit suspiciously of money laundering. Unabling to provide details of investors and bank accounts will probably be as there is too few to mention, or because of whose they are maybe! CPO’s to TDC previously refused for the same reason we have now, not providing information necessary to make an informed decision. Deadlines set by the Planning Inspectorate come and gone still without the necessary important information. How on earth did this DCO application get accepted for inspection in the first place I must ask? What a shambles, but at least a consistent shambles I suppose! Thanet deserves better than this. All these people have achieved so far is holding the area back and causing blight.

  9. Many of you have pension funds that try and get the best returns for their beneficiaries; in order to do this, they most likely set aside funds in tax havens. Does that notion worry any of you?

    • The fundamental issue is that RSP don’t have the money. Not in HSB, not in the piggy bank, not in Belize.
      The question is: should SHP be forced to sell their land to the RSP speculators, when the latter are unable or unwilling to show that they can pay for it.

  10. It really is laughable. For the last three years pro-airport supporters have been confidently telling everyone and anyone that RiverOak had hundreds of millions of pounds in the bank to pay for the project. Legitimate queries were batted away with assurances that once the project was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate, the source of funding would be made clear. Now we’ve reached the crunch point and RSP are have admitted that they don’t have the money. It’s all going to be raised later, once they’ve been given permission to go ahead with the development. Yet not one of the pro-airport supporters has apologised for the lies they’ve told about the funding. Now, they resort to claims that none of us know anything about funding major projects and that raising the money after you’ve got the go ahead is perfectly normal. Actually, some of us know a great deal about such things and this is far from normal. It is inconceivable that the Planning Inspectorate will give this project the go ahead unless the full funding package is guaranteed in advance. How could they? We are dealing with a large parcel of land worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Unless RSP can pay the owners the full cost of acquiring the site their plans can go nowhere.

  11. Why doesn’t RSP they buy an airfield that’s already for sale? I’m pretty certain there must be a few somewhere or other in Britain. Why are RSP so keen on acquiring an airport in a position with a history of economic failure?

  12. Why doesn’t RSP buy an airfield that’s already for sale? I’m pretty certain there must be a few somewhere or other in Britain. Why are RSP so keen on acquiring an airport in a position with a history of economic failure?

  13. Why doesn’t this news outlet publish the other half of this story? The case for opposition far outweighs the sentimental support of an unviable dormant airfield. Why not publish a story outlining the 187 pages of additional questions the examining authority has requested of RSP? That’s quite a few additional queries wouldn’t you say?

    • The article isn’t pro or anti, it simply lays out part of the financial questions being asked and concerns raised over the Belize shareholding. Yes, there are other questions and a crazy amount of documents (too many for it to be accessible for people) but this particular issue is one that has been consistently raised. There are No Night Flight stories on this website and it was covered in detail in the January print edition too with a particular look at night flights

      • Just to be clear about this: in August, the Planning Inspector, in accepting RSP’s Application for Examination, spelled out a number of serious shortcomings in the Application. The PI made it clear that the Examining Authority would be keen to see, early on in the Examination, details of Funding and various Environmental Assessments that were missing or incomplete.
        That was over 4 months ago.
        The Examination opened, and the ExA asked RSP about the missing bits. And lo and behold, RSP had suddenly found it necessary to “restructure” its organisation, because of lack of transparency associated with Belize. I wonder why it never crossed RSP’s mind when first they explored this management structure that there might be Questions Asked? (I recall that Chris Wells made disparaging comments about Belize shell companies, and RSP threatened to sue. He refused to retract. They didn’t sue.)
        The ExA has given RSP in till 15th Feb to respond to its requests. That’s about 500 searching questions, requiring detailed answers, contained in a 178 page document.
        I would say it’s a bit of a show stopper. If RSP can’t or won’t come up with the goods (let’s not forget that twice before, when trying for a CPO with TDC, they didn’t have convincing answers) the ExA is likely to call “Time”.

  14. I think there should be more headlines based on the case against. ‘Hoping to bring back aviation’ sounds like we’re all off to sunny Spain on our local MPs airline. The voices against are not just about night flights, they are systematically proving that the entire business case of RSP is riddled with holes. At 187 pages of additional queries, it looks like the examining authority thinks so too. Let’s stop pretending some nice people want to bring back 3 flights a day.

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