Rok calls in administrator

 
Marion Dakers
SOCIAL housing company Rok stunned investors yesterday by filing for administration less than two months after management declared its confidence in the business.

The Essex-based firm, which employs 3,800 people, released a terse statement to the stock market yesterday and PricewaterhouseCooper were later appointed as administrator.

The firm issued a profit warning in August, but had recently signed contracts with Tesco and Unilever.

Rok said in September that it “continues to have confidence that the Company will meet market expectations” after investigating accounting problems in its plumbing division that cleared finance director Ashley Martin of wrongdoing.

Mike Jervis, Rok’s administrator, told City A.M.: “We have got people at all the sites of the business and have been in communication with all employees.”

Jervis added that there has been a lot of interest from “large players, many of whom are competitors” in buying up the viable parts of Rok.

Mears chairman Bob Holt, who bought up contracts from collapsed rival Connaught in September, told City A.M.: “We are definitely interested in any social housing business. We have spoken with PwC.”

Social housing peer Kinetics also expressed an interest, but chief executive Chris Cheshire warned: “The danger with Rok is that they have been under-bidding for contracts for some time. Some contracts might not be worth buying once we’ve taken a look.”

MIKE JERVIS

PWC

MIKE Jervis, Rob Hunt, Robert Lewis and Jeremy Webb have been appointed as joint administrators for Rok. The quartet from PricewaterhouseCooper has a long collective history of winding up fallen giants in the City and across the pond.

Jervis has spent the past two years working on the unwinding of the Lehman Brothers business alongside Tony Lomas, Steven Pearson and Dan Schwarzmann, which is expected to take at least a decade to untangle.

He is also well known for helping to sort out Enron’s UK affairs when it went under in 2001.

He has spent around 20 years at PwC, with a break in the late 1990s for a stint at Grant Thornton, and is a fixture in the business recovery team in London.

If dealing with the mess left by successive financial crises wasn’t enough, Jervis also spends time coaching and watching football and rugby with his four sons.

Rob Hunt heads PwC’s business recovery team in Birmingham, and was recently kept busy acting as liquidator for budget holiday chain Goldtrail alongside Jeremy Webb.

Robert Lewis’ latest work includes helping to wind up MHL Realisations earlier this year and workwear group Alexandra in 2008.