Subcontractors working on two solar farms in Queensland are owed money by RCR  Tomlinson.
Subcontractors working on two solar farms in Queensland are owed money by RCR Tomlinson.

Subbies owed up to $630m in solar company collapse

COLLAPSED engineering firm RCR Tomlinson owes up to $630 million to creditors including subcontractors working on two solar farms in Queensland.

Creditors of the Sydney-based company met on Monday in a series of meetings around the country to discuss a possible sale of the company and its assets by administrator McGrathNicol.

RCR, which was also involved in rail, oil and gas and power generation, owes 4000 subcontractors and other suppliers, about $250 million.

Australian Subcontractors Association director Louise Stewart said she was concerned that Queensland subbies had left on site heavy equipment over which they had not registered a security interest.

RCR was the engineering, procurement and construction contractor to Pacific Hydro's $200 million Haughton solar farm near Clare, 60km south of Townsville, as well as the Darling Downs Solar Farm for APA Group.

"We are concerned that because there has been no security interest registered by the subbies on this equipment it could become part of the property of RCR," said Ms Stewart. "It is mainly earthmoving equipment for the initial stages of the project."

Ms Stewart said another concern was the large amount of money owed to RCR from project developers for work completed. She said this money should be placed in a special trust account to pay subbies.

Creditors, who attended Monday's meetings, were seeking clarity on a number of actions by the company before it collapsed including a $100 million fund raising. "They knew they were in trouble," she said. "In Queensland, subcontractors working on the company's solar farm projects typically faced three months of non-payment (before the company went into administration)."

McGrathNicol partner Jason Preston said the administrator's priority was to prepare the business for sale to bring certainty to employees, customers and suppliers.

Mr Preston said inquiries had already been received from more than 180 parties interested in the company's assets.

McGrathNicol said RCR had been challenged by unprofitable solar contracts within its renewables operations. However, the balance of the business operates across industries which are seeing increasing demand for services.