Bank accused of blocking key deal for beleaguered Scots business park

A SPAT has erupted between the developer of a near-empty business park and its lenders that is threatening its first letting to a major tenant.

• Motherwell director John Boyle, pictured, is among investors in the Maxim business park which is facing problems with its bankers over key deal to sign a major tenant

Lloyds Banking Group has been accused of refusing to let the developer of the Maxim office complex off the M8 near Glasgow fund the 3 million refurbishment cost required from its reserves.

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The investment is necessary to bring in the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) as Maxim's anchor tenant.

Although TAL CPT, the developer behind Maxim, has 120m in the bank, it must raise fresh funds from current investors, who include Motherwell Football Club director John Boyle, or find new investors. Without further funds they risk losing the deal.

An insider close to the talks said the Maxim development was "effectively in the hands of the bank" which was "refusing" to support the developer's efforts to land Sepa. He said: "The way the buildings are built at Maxim, they are still to be fitted out. It has always been known that when a tenant came along there would be a fit out. It (the Sepa deal] is a long lease, there are a lot of jobs but the bank are refusing to sign the cheque."

Andrew Lapping, a director of TAL CPT, insisted "there were other ways and means" of finding the money. He confirmed that the developer had 120m in the bank but said this would not be used to fund the fit out.

Lapping said the use of funds in the bank were "part of the discussions we are having with the bank." He said: "We could go to the market. A lease would be worth a lot of money, we could refinance the building. There are all sorts of ways to do it." He said the developer continued to have a "strong relationship" with the bank.

TAL CPT is remaining tight-lipped about negotiations with Sepa, which are subject to a strict non-disclosure agreement. But sources have confirmed that Sepa has chosen Maxim as its "preferred option" for a new campus, relocating staff from sites in Ayr, East Kilbride, Edinburgh and Stirling.

"Maxim is throwing big numbers at them - the incentives are enough to choke a horse," said one source.

Sepa said: "We can't comment on ongoing commercial discussions". Lloyds also said it would not comment on a commercial matter.

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Earlier this year the speculative 330m office park that replaced the former Chunghwa Picture Tubes factory breached its loan-to-value covenants, sparking a review of the outstanding debt estimated to be 175m. Lapping also dismissed fears that the bank would call in the loan, which would force the consortium of investors backing the project to pay tax previously waived.The development is in an Enterprise Zone, which means investors enjoyed significant tax breaks. "That's not an issue," he insisted.

He added: "Once there is an anchor tenant, there will be more parties coming in."

The ten office towers at Maxim remain largely unoccupied since work began on the project in 2007.

The few occupants include asset management consultancy Currie & Brown, serviced office firm Regus and a number of companies providing services to tenants such as a creche and a sandwich bar.