Monday, 14 November 2016

Tony Freudmann

All the many amateur detectives putting in their Voluntary hours to try and dissect the many faceted business portfolio of Ann Gloag really ought to take a look at the Bona Fides of the man fronting Riveroaks bid for Manston. Next time he is in town ask him a few questions.

Besides being struck off as a Solicitor for 23 counts of "misappropriation" of client funds and having to resign as leader of Shropshire Council he has led a challenging life as an assett-stripper by leveraging going concerns, making people redundant and selling the assets. An extremely immoral but legal business practice. Here is his recent CV.

"Tony Freudmann, Director of RiverOak and their front man here in the UK for the Manston caper, has spent an awful lot of energy over the last twenty years acquiring; trying to acquire; and failing to develop old military airports. This glorious run of complete failure is topped and tailed by Manston. Here's a very brief summary:

1994 – Freudmann joins Wiggins, a property development company. He gives Wiggins the idea of buying up old military airports for development and is made responsible for airport acquisition. Wiggins' focus is on buying: “former military bases with ample availability of surrounding land which can be developed using the real estate experience of Wiggins.” Sound familiar?

1999 – Wiggins buys Manston Airport.

2000 – Freudmann and Wiggins go on a buying spree. Wiggins acquires Odense airport in Denmark in a joint venture (JV) with the local authority. As part of the deal Wiggins will get “exclusive development rights over 400 acres of land.” Potentially very lucrative, no? The JV is later ended by the local authority because the rent hadn’t been paid by Wiggins. A chunky financial settlement is agreed against Wiggins in 2005.

2000 – Wiggins acquires a 25 year lease for Smyrna Airport, Tennessee, USA. The plan is to develop the airport and have it as Wiggins’ corporate HQ. Wiggins said at the time that 14 more airports would be acquired in 2000. Yes, 14. In 2003 Wiggins surrenders the lease for Smyrna.

2001 – Wiggins takes a lease from the Czech MoD for Pilsen airport. A deal is made with BAE to redevelop the airport. Nothing much happens. When Wiggins (by then called Planestation) goes belly up in 2005, Pilsen is sold.

2001 – Wiggins acquires 80% of Lahr airport, Germany. During Wiggins’ ownership, redevelopment plans come to nothing. Lahr is sold to Babcock & Brown in 2005 when Planestation goes under.

2001 – Wiggins acquires Schwerin Parchim airport in Northern Germany alongside a nice EU grant to develop it. There are issues (again) with non-payment of rent. The agreement is terminated in 2005 and Wiggins settles for 3m Euro.

2001 – Wiggins takes a 43% stake in Cuneo-Levaldigi airport, Italy. Wiggins withdraws in 2004 having made heavy losses despite serious investment by the Italian Government.

2001 – Wiggins agrees a deal to build and operate an international airport in Ajman, UAE. An $800m plan to redevelop the airport comes to nothing and is abandoned in 2003.

2001 – The Financial Reporting Review Panel criticises Wiggins for five years of over-positive reporting of its financial results. When the accounts are redrawn, it’s clear that Wiggins is operating at a significant loss. This is a long time before EUJet is even dreamed of. It's a popular myth that EUJet broke Planestation. EUJet didn't help, that's true, but Wiggins/Planestation was mired in debt well before EUJet came along. And Freudmann had a big part to play in the Planestation demise because he was out snapping up unsuccessful airports.

2003 – Trading in Wiggins shares is suspended to give the company a chance to sort itself out.

2004 – Wiggins takes a lease to operate the international side of Melbourne Airport, USA. It says that Melbourne will replace Smyrna airport in the Wiggins portfolio. The project is just starting when Planestation goes under in 2005.

2004 – Wiggins takes on Borgond Airport, Hungary, in a JV withthe local authority. Work had not begun when Planestation went under in 2005.

2004 – Wiggins becomes Planestation.

2004 (May) – Wiggins buys 30% of EUJet.

2004 – Turnaround expert brought in to rescue Planestation. He says:

"When I first came here we were spending money to no particular end. Last year we spent £11 million maintaining dormant airports. The previous year £13.5 million.”

He says that Planestation will no longer be "an acquirer of assets and a stealer of ideas".

Others say: "… Planestation has been one of the most woeful ventures ever to grace the London Stock Exchange. Over the past ten years the group, previously known as Wiggins, has raised more money, north of around £115 million than its actual market valuation. With this cash it built up an international chain of seven (hitherto largely dormant) airports and an assortment of property interests and assets in the UK. Apart from property disposals, it has generated little in the way of revenues, milked its investor base for all they were worth and produced gargantuan annual losses".

Take a bow for your part in this "woeful" adventure, Mr Freudmann.

2004 (Dec) – Planestation buys the rest of EUJet.

2005 (Feb) – Tony Freudmann is “let go” from Planestation and goes into the travel industry, following the lead of his parents and his brother.

2005 (July) – Planestation goes into administration. Infratil buys Manston airport from the administrator.

2005 to 2009 – Tony Freudmann bills Kent County Council for almost £176,000 in consultancy fees, including a £50,000 feasibility report into starting up flights from Manston to Virginia.

2006 – KCC invests £289,000 in Freudmann’s Manston to Virginia plan. Not a single plane takes off.

2011 – Local authority in Germany puts the running of Lahr Airport out to tender again following Babcock & Brown’s failure to develop it successfully.

2012 – Infratil puts Manston on the global market.

2012 – Tony Freudmann takes over Lahr Airport for Integeral Investments Ltd. Integeral was established in May 2008 by Sanjeev Joshi and Daryn Soards. Douglas Maggs is also involved.

2012 – Local Press at Lahr comment that the airport's workers are not being paid. Tony Freudmann says he has no comment to make as it is a “private matter”.

2012 – High Court hearing for Integeral to be placed into administration or wound up. Court hears evidence that Integeral was insolvent from late 2011, i.e. before Freudmann used Integeral to bid to run Lahr Airport. Integeral is then wound up. Oddly, Tony Freudmann doesn’t mention this in conversation with the Lahr Press when he is interviewed a couple of days later.

2013 – The local authority puts the running of Lahr back out to tender again. Tony Freudmann tries to get hold of it a third time, using his brand-new company, Annax Aviation. PWC (running the bidding process for the Lahr contract) does not think that any of the three bidders, including Annax, is suitable.

2013 – TF introduces Ann Gloag to the Prestwick and Manston sale opportunities.

2013 – Ann Gloag buys Manston for £1 plus the airport’s running costs until the deal closes.

2014 (Jan) – Tony Freudmann fronts a bid to buy the airport from Ann Gloag. At the same time he goes to TDC to ask about the possibility of putting 1,000 houses on the Northern Grass. Never doubt, airport lovers, that this is the main game here for Freudmann and for RiverOak. Take a look at that HUGE industrial estate in the RiverOak drawing (not really a plan) released for the non-statutory consultations. We bet you any money you like that the real "plan" is to develop that land, the Northern Grass, for a quick return and then to run the airport on a shoestring until it fails yet again.

2014 – Consortium including Tony Freudmann makes Ann Gloag an offer for Manston and is rejected.

2014 – Tony Freudmann pals up with RiverOak to try yet again to get hold of Manston.

Now, can you honestly read that catalogue of disasters and believe for one second that Tony Freudmann and RiverOak could ever run a successful airport at Manston? Seriously? In fact, does anyone really believe that Tony Freudmann wants the land this time around so that he can run an airport when he has spent twenty years trying to acquire former military airports because they have lots of development land attached to them"

 It isn't surprising that people have been taken in however where Riveroak comes into this mess is anyone's guess. Now wait it isn't that surprising seeing as they are a Real Estate Investment company just like Wiggins.


  1. Barry the first Consortium wasn't rejected,the buyer pulled out for 'legal reasons'remember?sir Roger Gale put that out into the press with no comments.

  2. Which consortium there are so many. Be specific

  3. BBC news 25th March 2014:Manston airpot:Roger Gale says'Potential buyer' Found.
    BBC news 27th March 2014:Manston airport purchase offer letter sent to owner.
    BBC news 2nd April 2014: Manston airport bidder withdraws purchase offer.
    Airportwatch 2nd April: Gale says the reason for pulling the bid on the airport is for 'Legal reasons',with no comments on who the consortium were.It was Annex Aviation Gib.

  4. Surely out of all of his airport acquisitions he must have had some success? they can't be ALL failures can they?

  5. The grants, the investments, just follow the money...

  6. It is a fact that Mr Freudmann is the cousin of Ms Jo Gideon, District Councillor for Thanet from 2003-2015.