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Iconic builder Grocon calls in administrators, blames NSW development

Business

The massive Grocon building empire has collapsed.

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The construction company, which is one of the biggest in Australia, called in administrators on Friday.

Grocon was founded in 1954 and has been run by three generations of the Grollo family.

Its chief executive, Daniel Grollo, says he’s furious and government agency Infrastructure NSW’s handling of the Central Barangaroo project is to blame.

“It is unfortunate that INSW is forcing our hand to place the construction business into administration,” he said.

The national construction secretary of the CFMEU, Dave Noonan, says Grocon’s collapse means it’s unlikely the company’s many subcontractors will ever get paid.

“People can draw their own conclusions about Daniel Grollo’s leadership,” he said.

“Obviously he takes the view that it’s everyone else’s fault.”

Noonan said the construction industry is sick of big companies “constantly going under, owing millions of dollars to subcontractors”.

Les Williams, from the advocacy group Subcontractors Alliance, agreed thousands of subcontractors may never see the money they’re owed.

“These are small businesses that are just hung out to dry. It’s a disgrace,” he said.

But Daniel Grollo says he wants to pay the company’s creditors in full.

“I believe we will ultimately win the case against INSW and when we do so, the creditors will be the first in line to be compensated,” he said.

Grocon has become embroiled in legal disputes across three states.

It’s battling INSW in court over permitted building heights at Barangaroo and was recently ordered to pay one million dollars to secure INSW’s legal costs.

But there have also been multimillion dollar legal cases with commercial property heavyweight Dexus in the Queensland courts and APN Property in Victoria.

And Grocon has a long history of disputes with the construction union CFMEU, with blockades shutting down parts of Melbourne’s CBD for months in 2012.

There have been workplace safety problems too.

In 2013, a wall at Grocon’s CUB building site in Melbourne collapsed, killing three pedestrians.

Grocon was found to be responsible and fined $250,000.

The company has built some of the country’s most iconic buildings, including the Rialto, Crown Casino, Eureka Tower and AAMI Park stadium in Melbourne, as well as 1 Martin Place in Sydney and Common Ground in Brisbane.

The company recently completed a $75 million clean-up and rebuilding project after Victoria’s bushfires last summer.

As for its current projects, Grocon said the Ribbon development in Sydney and the Northumberland development in inner city Melbourne would not be part of the administration process.

 

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