Grant Thornton today confirmed it had been appointed administrator to a key company within the AAIM property fund management group.
Grant Thornton is administrator to JCCO 114, which was formerly called AAIM Ltd. JCCO 114 manages 10 special purpose vehicles (SPVs) that hold property investments – ranging from retail space to hotels, offices and car showrooms - in the UK and Europe which were set up after September 2005.
JCCO 114 is a 100% subsidiary of AAIM Group. The administrator has not been appointed to any of the SPVs or any of the other companies connected to JCCO 114.
Robert Caven, a partner at Grant Thornton said: ‘The administrators continue to manage the affairs of the SPVs whilst taking an assessment of the value and status of the bridging loans.
‘Ultimately we expect to hand over the management of the SPVs either to a new company or existing asset management teams. We are working closely with all stakeholders to ensure continued management of the SPV's.’
As well as being a fund manager, JCCO 114 is also understood to own direct stakes in other property vehicles.
The administrator has been appointed to assess the viability of JCCO 114 and whether a fruitful restructuring is possible.
Bank of Scotland Corporate bought its stake in AAIM Group in 2005, and the partners co-invested in properties in the UK and on the continent.
At one stage the portfolio was worth more than £2bn. The company formerly known as AAIM Limited’s main mandate was for the £2.1bn Symmetry fund, which Property Week understands is to be managed by Catalyst Capital (Property Week, 07.11.08).
However, doubts over the company formerly known as AAIM Limited do not signal the end of the wider AAIM Group.
On Wednesday an AAIM spokesman would only say: ‘There is a complex set of confidentiality agreements around these discussions, through which comments from the principals of AAIM are curtailed.’
However, it is understood that a wider group of assets and companies under the AAIM Group umbrella will continue to trade. It was this group that first catapulted AAIM not only into property industry fame, but also into the headlines within the wider financial world.
Investing with the backing of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the endorsement of TV legend Sir David Frost, this vehicle amassed a portfolio worth £500m between 2003 and 2005.
These assets continue to perform securely, and will continue to be managed by another AAIM company. Sources close to the company said existing directors are now in talks with new investors over launching new ventures to buy cheap property next year as the market bottoms out.
Former AAIM executive Rob Whitton is the frontrunner to manage another £250m of assets – believed to be from within the Symmetry fund’s UK portfolio. Fund managers overall are struggling with current market conditions – fees are drying up as market activity has come to a standstill. On top of that, because many have been rewarded according to the value of the portfolios they run, they are being hit by a ‘double-whammy’ as these values sink.