Friday, 31 March 2017

RSP open and transparent NOT

Well Riveroak Strategic Partners Ltd have provided a press release concerning their owners M.I.O Investments Limited and typically the ego stroking continues on SMAa however in the real world jaws have dropped and thoughts have turned to the scoring of their own goal. The press release is as follows:

"We share your determination! The creation of RiverOak Strategic Partners meets our long held commitment to have a UK operating company. Our investors are represented on the RSP board by Nick Rothwell, Rico Sykes and Gerard Heusler. M.I.O Investments Limited has been established by our investors as a specific funding vehicle for their financial interests in the Manston project, which is standard practice. M.I.O Investments Limited is a company registered in the Commonwealth territory of Belize.
We have provided all required details of our company ownership structure to Companies House and also informed the Planning Inspectorate of the creation of RSP. Additional, comprehensive details of our funding partners and investment arrangements will be provided to PINS as part of the DCO application, providing solid evidence of our ability to meet all of the financial obligations associated with the acquisition, reopening and operation of the airport"


So why Belize?
To repeat:
Belize offers a high degree of privacy. Belize will not disclose its banking or fiscal information to any foreign party.
No tax at all
No reporting requirements.

Well, Well, Well who owns MIO? Who knows.

What do governments say about Belize as a tax haven?
Link

What do TDC say about this? Well Chris Wells replied to an email by Andy McCulloch as follows:

On 30 Mar 2017, at 19:02, Andrew McCulloch wrote:
In view of the attached are you still willing to go along with the fiction that the DCO is unfunded and that RSP have no money?


Andrew McCulloch


  Dear Andrew

I understand Belize is one of 14 Caribbean nations named by the US as “major money laundering” countries in the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) released by the US State Department.



According to the report, a major money laundering country is defined as one “whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking”.
The report notes that Belize is not a major regional financial center but has a substantial offshore financial sector. It also notes that Belize is a transshipment point for marijuana and cocaine, and states that human trafficking is also a concern for the country.”

What else would you like us to note?

Regards

Chris Wells


 Further from the press release

comprehensive details of our funding partners and investment arrangements will be provided to PINS as part of the DCO application
 Logically this is difficult to understand because shrouding the ownership of RSP Ltd in Belize secrecy doesn't make sense if at the same time you are providing  "comprehensive details of our funding partners" to the Planning Authorities.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

So who owns Riveroak Strategic Partners

Strangely it seems 90% of Riveroak Strategic Partners is owned by M.I.O Investments Limited which oddly isn't a real Limited Company (well one registered in England and Wales anyway). So who is in charge? It seems from a filing at Companies House on the 27th March 2017no one has significant control.
So at the recent Save Manston Association chin wag where Tony Freudmann , that bastion of honesty, spoke for 7 minutes on the recent departure of the American Riveroak Investments LLC, attempting to reassure the faithful that all was above board and that was all part of the big plan he failed to mention how the 10000 shares in Company 10269461 RIVEROAK STRATEGIC PARTNERS LIMITED were to be allocated and so on the 23rd March 2017 they were duly allocated.

 
1000 shares have been allocated to Riveroak Manston Limited (so that Ltd company own 10% of the company and there are 3 directors and 4 shares yet to be allocated.
Now we have been here before with Pleasurama with the use of a company name selected to mimic a normal Ltd company registered in England and Wales, however there is no company of that name registered at Companies House. So Why?

It would seem that there is attempt to hide the 90% ownership of Riveroak Strategic Partners as the Partners seem to want to hide behind a smokescreen of offshore shell companies.

Why is the most pertinent question but I have no idea as they haven't actually decided on a plan for Manston (well if they have they aren't setting out their plan for scrutiny) neither have they explained where the money is coming from. I suspect MIO Investments Limited is a shell to hide the source of the funding.
So what has their tame MP said about this obfuscation of ownership? well nothing really, I produce his latest statement below:

"Mr Paul Francis, who writes for this newspaper, is a competent journalist bedevilled by a headline writer with an eye for sensationalism rather than fact!
A couple of weeks ago we were treated to the front page suggestion that ' Development Plans Kill Off Airport Hope'. Last week we were told that ' RiverOak has pulled out of Manston'. Neither, as anyone who actually attended the recent Planning Inspectorate hearings in Thanet Council Offices will know, is true.
Thanet's Draft Local Plan is deeply flawed both in content and in process and will be subjected to rigorous public scrutiny and, I suspect, condemnation when it is considered by a planning inspector. The proposals put forward by Ms Gloag's Lothian Shelf company are, as was exposed by the planning inquiry, lightweight and lacking in substance.
It is correct that two of RiverOak's senior main Board Directors, Niall Lawlor and George Yerrall, have left the RiverOak Corporation of America. They have bought out that company's interests (at a million bucks or so not bad for a company that Mr Wells would like us to believe has no money!) to establish RiverOak UK as a British enterprise with a Head Office in London and to devote their entire energies to the re- opening of Manston Airport. Hardly " pulling out of Manston"!
While this paper's headline was landing on your doormats RiverOak was hosting a breakfast briefing at the House of Commons, in the presence of those who intend to finance the acquisition and rebuilding of the airport via a Development Consent Order (DCO), for the Chairman and members of the Transport Select Committee and other MPs. This event detailed in terms the Company's intentions and the timelines for the process that will lead to literal and economic take- off.
Contrast that approach, if you will, with TDC's commissioning of a report to get the Council out of the election pledge made by Cllr Wells and the subsequent further 'study' allegedly being carried out by The Disruptive Finance company (with whom Craig Mackinlay and I spoke about a year ago) upon which Mr. Wells is now staking his County Council election hopes.
As I told the Planning Inspector recently we shall, post- Brexit, need every inch of airport capacity in the South East if we are to develop new markets in Asia and the Far East and to build the economic success that we seek as a nation. Trying to re- furnish an operational airport would have been a nightmare. With adequate funding, which is now readily available to RiverOak UK, we instead have the exciting prospect of creating, practically from scratch, a brand new, world class, state-of- the-art freight hub and subsequent passenger airport to serve the needs of UK Ltd. and to bring business lost to mainland Europe back to Britain. That surely, is a project that ought to have the full support of Government at every level.
One final comment. I am asked, occasionally, " what's in it for you"? Apart from the satisfaction of securing the future of a national asset for my Country I have, indeed, made one - and only one- request of RiverOak. I have asked that the first aircraft to land again at Manston, alongside a plane representing Sue Girdler's TG Aviation (in memory of the founder of the firm, her Father, Ted) shall be a Spitfire. This is a Battle of Britain that we have to win."

So what is the truth? Well who knows is the answer. Gale provides no truth of $1M or so paid to Riveroak Investments LLC just words. Well Lawlor and Yerrall have nothing to do with any USA companies therefore Riveroak Investments LLC aren't the mystery Investors and so far neither Freudmann or Gale have enlightened anyone. Smoke and Mirrors spring to mind.

I am not alone in wondering what is going on:
"Either Sir Roger is very easy to bamboozle, or he thinks that we are. He's nattily conflated in his recent piece in the Thanet Extra the company he calls ""RiverOak Corporation of America" with RiverOak, the company set up by Mr Freudmann. He claims that "RiverOak" is "hardly pulling out of Manston".
Well, he's wrong.
We'll repeat it again.
As Mr Yerrall, once of RiverOak Investment Corporation LLC (registered in Delaware) said at the Planning Inquiry recently, he has left the US company. Mr Lawlor has also left the US company. There is no link between the US company and the new UK company, RiverOak Strategic Partners. It's as plain as the nose on yer face - Stephen DeNardo and RiverOak Investment Corporation LLC have pulled out of the Manston project. They're gorn. They have nothing to do with a future DCO appliction for Manston. Yerrall and Lawlor and Freudmann are going it alone.
Interestingly, since the news broke that RSP was a company owned by Mr Freudmann, things have changed rather rapidly. There's a new ownership structure in town. RSP is now owned 10% by RiverOak Manston Ltd. Who's the person who controls RiverOak Manston Ltd? Er, Mr Freudmann.
So what of the other 90% of RSP? Well, that's listed as being controlled by MIO Investments Ltd. And who are they? You may well ask. There's a company of that name that was dissolved in Feb 2012, but otherwise, there's not a trace.
Hardly transparent, is it? Looks as if we're in for another dose of murk and mystery figures and fantasy investors while our Tone and the boys have a bit of a whip round for the dosh to get the DCO on the road.
Hilariously, the great business brains over on SMAa are busy telling the plane faithful to fret not, this is quite normal behaviour, and it's the sad old "antis" who don't understand. We don't know what country you're used to doing private equity deals in, guys and gals, but it's not one we recognise. Mind you, we're relying on our own experience of deals rather than on what Mr Freudmann tells us. Perhaps that's the difference?"

Answer
 "We share your determination! The creation of RiverOak Strategic Partners meets our long held commitment to have a UK operating company. Our investors are represented on the RSP board by Nick Rothwell, Rico Sykes and Gerard Heusler. M.I.O Investments Limited has been established by our investors as a specific funding vehicle for their financial interests in the Manston project, which is standard practice. M.I.O Investments Limited is a company registered in the Commonwealth territory of Belize.
We have provided all required details of our company ownership structure to Companies House and also informed the Planning Inspectorate of the creation of RSP. Additional, comprehensive details of our funding partners and investment arrangements will be provided to PINS as part of the DCO application, providing solid evidence of our ability to meet all of the financial obligations associated with the acquisition, reopening and operation of the airport"


More later

Friday, 17 March 2017

Why choose Manston for freight

With the setting up of a dedicated UK team "Riveroak Strategic Partners" Freudmann has finally cut all links with his US funders Riveroak Investments LLC based in Connecticut. Where the funding is to come from to supply the stated £300M is unknown at present but like everything Freudmann does these are "commercially sensitive" or to put another way "I ain't telling you".
Riveroak (sic) Strategic Partners
To date no business plan has been disclosed but it is sure to be the most Bigly Business plan ever seen and it needs to be absolutely stupendous as the economics are against most normal business plans.
Taken from observer's that attended the Public Enquiry is this little snippet

The following information comes in small digestible facts easily acquired if you scan the Department for Transport reports, The Airports Commission and the CAA website. None of the figures are made up and there is no reinterpretation (spin) just facts pure and simple.

Firstly total Airfreight at a stagnant 2,300,000 tonnes is a paltry 0.5% of the total freight shipped into the UK, the rest 99.5% is shipped via lorry or Shipping. It has been stagnant for more than a decade with little prospect of increasing for the foreseeable future. However within this figure 70% is shipped in the belly of passenger planes and as the demand for passenger flights is increasing that % is likely to increase.

The target freight that Freudmann has indicated he wants to take on is in the dedicated cargo plane market of the remaining  tonnage which based on CAA figures are carried on 52000 air traffic movements (avg 13 tonnes per movement).

To be a Nationally Significant Project justifying taking the land from Stone Hill Park Freudmann will have to prove at least 10000 air freight movements which would need to haul 130,000 tonnes at the above average significantly less than their boast of between 500000 - 600000 tonnes, however that is still taking 20% of the dedicated freight market from the two biggest airports outside of Heathrow. (East Midlands and Stanstead who between them have a quarter of the total freight market and have significant capacity to take more).

A simple comparison of East Midlands and Stanstead show that Manston is at a distinct disadvantage and I list them below

Does Manston have a 24 hour operation like EMA? NO because they say they don't need Night Flights.
Does Manston have a central UK location with fast motorway access to all parts of the UK? Er No it's stuck in NE Kent with an hour to get to the M25.
Does it have frequent flights to other UK airfields to avoid the road network? Well no and it has never been suggested.

Can it build an extensive network of Freight forwarding companies? Doubtful

In fact most cargo travels in the belly of passenger planes and would prefer their planes not returning empty something that didn't happen at Manston.

Freudmann has already said they will be putting in £300M to build the infrastructure however he has yet to say where this money is coming from and how it will be repaid.

Let's take a look at that situation. No bank will lend him the money as it would be too risky so he will have to look at the Investment Market such as the Riveroak Investments LLC would have been however they have walked away (He has some new directors which may be his bankers). Investment banks take a view they want a return that matches the risk. In today's climate that is likely to be in the region of 9-10% and even then they will want to secure this against the land.
£300M at 10% would mean a return of £30M a year or an eye watering £2.5 Million a month something that would put them at a major disadvantage in the cut throat world of Airfreight. (and that's without repaying the capital borrowed which over 25 years would be £1M per month).

To summarise Manston is and will continue to be at a considerable disadvantage in the Airfreight market so unless Freudmann is completely stupid why is he chasing this non starter maybe that is more to do with the 800 acres of building land which he is fully aware of since his 1st approach to TDC in December 2013 when as MD of Annax Aviation he asked TDC whether he could build 1000 houses on the grass runway to the north. (my take on the reasons)

Further there seems to be some doubt in former supporters minds as to the intentions of Freudmann

Friday, 20 January 2017

irony and xenophobia

During the last 3 years it has become apparent that some of the people supporting the Manston Airport campaign are being played for fools by Riveroak and that they (RO) are using every propaganda tool in their toolbox to drum up continued support.
Some of the slogans have roots in UKIP's election campaign in 2015 and in Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. From megaphone man's entreaty that 10000 homes will be built and filled with slum tenants from London overspill to Gloag developing Gloagsville garden town the campaign has been filled with xenophobic comments and the post truth (lies) has been utilised by Riveroak and Roger Gale to ensure continued support for planes flying again.

So it did surprise me that Carol's comment didn't generate some criticism or at least some recognition that the remark was somewhat wide of the mark. "Bloody newbies" .... " they think they know what Thanet needs". It did generate some likes from people who it seems go along with these remarks.
I suspect the irony was missed completely, so I will spell it out.
The Campaign on behalf of a US Real Estate Company is led by Beau Webber or to give him his full name John Beausire Wyatt Webber. Was he born Thanet? However he is telling you what to do and funnily enough his sidekick Pritchard isn't Thanet born either.
 Still they aren't alone Roger Gale wasn't born in Thanet and neither is Craig Mackinlay.

Still what is clear is the support is single minded about their heroes Riveroak who it seems have £400M to invest in Manston which comes as a surprise when you consider the group only had $11M when they discussed this with TDC in late 2014 ( oh and a credit line of $400K unused) No wonder they wanted everything kept confidential.
What is also unusual is this credit line is from a rather small NY bank which was acquired by another bank (Sterling National Bank) in 2015. So if RO are such a huge company why do they bank with such a tiny entity?

So what of their knight in shining armour Anthony Freudmann was he perhaps born in Thanet? Well no.
This is his CV from the RO website which rather glosses over his business career and the fact that he was a practising solicitor until he was struck off for 23 counts of "misappropriation of clients funds" and he chose to resign from Shropshire CC because these offenses would have caused the Council to be sack him for bringing the council into disrespect. This CV is much more accurate.
It seems that much of the angst stems from xenophobia and several conversations I have had with people hinge on their belief that Manston was lost because people from outside the border of Thanet are interfering in Thanet matters except that it is people from outside of Thanet that are leading the campaign as well so it is somewhat hypocritical to use that as a reason when no referendum in Thanet has ever taken place.
Still this campaign has been dogged by lies and propaganda from the start. Lies like Riveroak own Canary Wharf and Center Parc and that TDC are governed by who pays the most in "Brown Envelopes" none of which are true but if it influences the supporters then why not.
Still there have been light hearted moments like a TDC Councillor (Ex-UKIP until he founded DIGgers) who fooled everybody into believing he was a decorated war hero
and the stringer for the BBC, who thinks he is a real reporter, who turned into a complete prat when he got hoisted by the Walter Mitty Hunters
Oh and Smee is it time yet to discuss your letter to Mr.Weirdy Beardy who lives in Kingsgate?

So to summarise You can only decide on what happens in Thanet if you are Thanet born. You can only live in Thanet if you are born in Thanet and when TDC build that wall round the island I suspect you might have to pay a toll to get on the Island. Unless that is you are Riveroak and our two MP's.