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One of the largest retirement groups in Australia this company was established by a controversial past bankrupt who, litigated aggressively, entered into illegal agreements, consorted with and paid criminals for protection, and tapped the telephones of staff.

 Australian section   





Primelife is primarily a market listed retirement village operator that owns a few nursing homes. It was founded by a controversial character, Ted Sent. Sent had a chequered career including multiple dubious businesses, bankruptcy, and conflicts with the tax department and other regulatory agencies. Many of his schemes revolved around different methods for evading tax. Investigations did not lead to prosecution. He seems to have had flair and those close to him admired (or hated) him and he inspired loyalty.

Sent rapidly build Primelife from nothing into a large enterprise by funding it through a large number of illegal financial syndicates. The story is one of paranoia and suspicion resulting in multiple costly lawsuits between the company and other operators as well as regulators. The persecution complex was such that employees phone calls were illegally taped and screened. Board meetings were under video surveillance.

Sent had a long time relationship with a notorious underworld figure. The company paid this person large sums in cash to stop an alleged contract on Sent's life and to provide him with protection. This same person was employed to smooth out difficulties with the unions on Primelife's construction sites.

Returns in the aged care industry are delayed for several years and Sent ran out of capital. The company's prospects were considered to be good but because of Sent's chequered career the banks and the market would not fund expansion while he was at the helm.

Two of Australia's well known businessmen Walker and de Crespigny became white knights when they bought into the company and took control of the board. They discovered what was happening and were soon in conflict with Sent who was fired.

The company was then involved in multiple conflicts and law suits with regulators, investors and contractors as it tried to unravel the mess. It was also involved in a series of suits and counter suits with Sent. When the latter came to court in 2006 the company's dirty linen was exposed and widely publicised.

Sent sold his share in the company to Babcock and Brown who have built a network of companies and trusts in retirement and nursing homes. They became the funders and the silent power behind the company. Primelife became part of their empire. Walker and de Crespigny have both resigned. Brown and Babcock now have a dominant stake and controlling influence in the company. It has become very much a part of their commercial empire.

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Primelife’s Origins

The company was incorporated in 1986 and listed on the share market in 1987. It has had a variety of names. It acquired its first retirement village in 1992 and continued to grow by acquisitions. It changed its name to Primelife in 1997. It went national in 2000 when it acquired Co-operative Retirement Services from its owner the Adelaide Bank. It embarked on a growth strategy.

Mar 2000 Ted Sent

Ted Sent is considered to be the founder of the company and by 2002 he owned 29% of the shares. The company is reported as operating 80 retirement facilities nation wide. 

Mr Sent said Primelife research indicated that about 10,000 new retirement beds would be developed in the next three years three times more than in the past three years.

Primelife alone planned 3,842 new beds during the next five years, he said.
Unease In World Of Retirement Australian Financial Review March 9, 2000

Aug 2002 Australia wide

Primelife, responsible for more than 80 aged-care facilities in South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, will make its first foray into the WA market as managers of the development, to be re-named Beaumont Village.
Primelife resurrects aged villas. The West Australian August 28, 2002

Oct 2002 Advertorial in Queensland

Nine of their villages are in Queensland, including The Domain at Robina, where time is rapidly running out for people wishing to buy in this idyllic location.

The last units in the final stage of this popular village are currently being snapped up.

Meanwhile at Ferny Hills, with its sweeping views to Moreton Bay, the Farrington Grove Residential Estate is attracting a lot of interest.

With its new clubhouse now in full swing and spacious new units starting at $115,000, it is not surprising that sales are on the rise.
Primelife has the answers. Sunday Mail October 20, 2002

Oct 2002 History

The company was incorporated in Queensland in 1986 as Permasnow (Australasia). It changed its name to Thomas Macdougall in 1991 and adopted its present name in 1997. It was listed on the second board of the Australian Stock Exchange in 1987 and was transferred to the main board in 1992.
Primelife achieved a national presence following the acquisition of Co-operative Retirement Services (CRS) in June 2000. The acquisition of CRS - a wholly owned subsidiary of the Adelaide Bank - - - - - - As a result, Primelife's industry share grew to approximately 18% of the self-funded retirement village market in Australia.
Primelife Corporation Limited Jobson's Yearbook of Public Companies October 31, 2002

Apr 2004 Size

And PrimeLife Corp, based in Melbourne, describes itself as "Australia's largest provider of senior lifestyles", with 60 villages, hostels and nursing homes plus 26 under construction across four states.
Grey Power Can Line Your Pockets Australian Financial Review April 21, 2004

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Ted Sent

A previous bankrupt Sent seems to have been a rather controversial character who made his own rules. This sort of character is common in the sensitive health and welfare sector. Because of the difficulties in oversight and the vulnerability of the "customers" these sectors provide enticing opportunities for such people. Probity does not seem to have been an issue in securing licences in this sector.

The first two extracts look back at Sent's career in 2006 and then some problems he caused earlier.

Jul 2006 Sent's background

ONE thing not disputed in all this is that Ted Sent is a colourful and tenacious survivor. He was charged over an alleged tax minimisation scheme in 1988, but all charges were dropped. He was bankrupted in 1992 owing more than $20 million, but emerged five years later in charge of Primelife, and by the late '90s he raked in millions of dollars.

He has bounced from one investment to another, from cars and aviation leasing to scallop fishing, Gold Coast tourism, property and aged-care. A recurring thread was tax advantaged investment schemes.

Sent's entrepreneurial journey began in the '60s, when he teamed with Brian Forshaw to run the prestige car dealer, Brents. In 1978, they bought a plane-leasing business, Schutt Aviation, and imported used planes from Spain and Israel to sell to syndicates of doctors. But by 1981, their eyes were on other prizes. They sold Schutt Aviation for $4.8 million to Jet Corporation - which collapsed spectacularly a year later, dragging down several high-profile business investors - and set their minds to fishing.

They acquired 60 boats, intending to sell the vessels and scallop fishing licences to syndicates of wealthy investors attracted by potential tax advantages.

Sent's bankruptcy in 1992 did not hamper him. He became a consultant to Thomas MacDougall Pty Ltd, a one-time snow-making company that veered into the retirement village business and changed its name to Primelife. By 1998, he was firmly in control.

Again, Sent had spied an industry with tax advantages. From 1994 to 1999, the Government allowed aggressive tax deductions for developers of retirement villages. The industry also had big growth potential.
SENT PACKING The Age July 1, 2006

Aug 2006 Visionary or "sleaze"?

TED Sent's supporters laud him as a grand visionary, the big-picture man with entrepreneurial flair.

Others, however, are more blunt and unapologetically accuse him of being a "sleaze" and the "biggest crook in Australia".

Those in the middle can at best sum up Eduard Christiaan Sent's corporate career as checkered and stained.

After all, he's been a bankrupt and a tax dodger.

He's also been banned as a company director and charged with criminal offences involving fraud and tax minimisation. But these were later dropped.

He's been investigated by the National Crime Authority, the National Companies and Securities Commission and its successor, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
"He was also charged in respect of tax minimisation arrangements involving Allied Fisheries but, as indicated, none of these matters was proceeded with."

When Mr Sent started Primelife back in 1992 -- from the ashes of one of his failed ventures -- it had no staff and no residents.

When he left the company it had 1100 employees and more than 6000 residents.

But Primelife, under his stewardship, also came under intense scrutiny from the companies watchdog.
Ted Sent was 19 when he first landed in Australia in 1960 and, as he tells it, with just $20 in his pocket. He set to work almost immediately washing vehicles in a Brunswick used car lot where he moved into sales.
The trouble with TED SENT Herald-Sun August 26, 2006

Nov 2002 Sent a problem

The aged-care group Primelife has conceded that as long as Ted Sent remains its managing director and a major shareholder the capital-strapped company may not be able to attract institutional investors.
Mr Sent has built a 29 per cent stake worth an estimated $45 million since he backed his family's retirement village company Mainpoint into the restructured and renamed Primelife Corporation in 1998 following his discharge from a $26 million bankruptcy.

In the years since, controversies over his performance agreement and related-party transactions have forced the board to rearrange his contract and remuneration. An accumulated bonus of $7 million, achieved in only two years, was converted into the issue of five million shares and the company undertook to reduce its dealings with Sent-associated private companies.

The annual report shows that Mr Sent's $3.44 million package last year included a $474,480 base salary, $58,950 related to the previous year and $2.53 million as the net cost of the share issue.
Primelife to change tack to attract partner with capital The Age November 16, 2002

Nov 2003 A past bankrupt

It's not the first time that Sent has been embroiled in corporate controversy. In April 1992, after the collapse of a company called Allied Fisheries, Sent was declared bankrupt owing $23 million. He stated he did not own a home, had no income, no household effects, furniture or car and his only asset was $245.25 in a bank. In 1995, Sent was automatically discharged as a bankrupt.

Bankruptcy does not appear to have been a serious impediment in Sent's financial career.
The bonuses accrued by Sent are also understood to have been questioned. They were based on Primelife's profitability, but the new board is questioning the basis of the stated profits. In the 2003 accounts, published after Sent had lost control, the new board reviewed the company's accounting policies.
Sent Denies Bugging Primelife Board Australian Financial Review November 22, 2003

May 2006 Reliance on Sandi Porter

Ms Porter, who had worked for Mr Sent since the 1980s, was allegedly responsible for many administrative functions at the company, while her boss provided the entrepreneurial flair.

Witness statements revealed that as recently as 2003 Mr Sent could not turn a computer on, could not type and could not send emails."
Primelife board meetings secretly taped The Sydney Morning Herald May 16, 2006

May 2006 Conflicts of interest

The Victorian Supreme Court was told that in mid-2003 the board discussed the "negative market perception" caused by the high number of related party transactions between Primelife and a company owned by Mr Sent, known as Mainpoint Developments.

At the meeting, the board also decided the company's deputy chief executive, Sandi Porter, had a conflict of interest because she worked for both Primelife and Mainpoint.
Gatto invoices arrived late, court told Australian Financial Review May 18, 2006

Sent was finally sacked by the board. Sent’s alleged dealings with underworld figures, the videotaping of board meetings, and the recording and monitoring of staff telephone conversations are making newspaper headlines as his suit for wrongful dismissal goes to trial in May 2006 - an interesting insight into the corporate world. Please note that the extracts are from press cuttings reporting the allegations made. They are still being tested in court.

One set of allegations relate to cash payments to a Mr Gatto in order to protect Sent from an assassin and to facilitate workforce relations at PrimeLife sites. For me it conjures up images of US protection rackets portrayed in old black and white movies.

We have stories of the undercover infiltration of rival companies, multiple death threats and a $60,000 payment to underworld figures to fix this problem. During the 1990s, reports from the USA indicated that drug gangs had moved into the less risky and more lucrative health care fraud market. Has our recently marketized aged care system already been similarly but more aggressively targeted by criminals.

Apr 2006 What was Primelife paying for?

The board stated: "As the plaintiff well knew, Arbitrations and Mediations Pty Ltd (Gatto’s company) did not conduct or assist in any arbitrations or mediations for or on behalf of Primelife and did not provide any consultancy management services for Primelife.
TYCOON'S SPIED ON Secret camera in giant company's boardroom Herald-Sun April 21, 2006

May 2006 Sent and Gatto

Peter Bick, QC, representing Mr Sent in a wrongful dismissal claim against Primelife, said Mr Gatto's company Arbitrations and Mediations was paid a monthly retainer in cash of between $4000 and $6000 and at least two one-off payments, again in cash, of $50,000 to help with union issues at building sites.

"Mr Gatto requested payments to be paid in cash because he was a gambler and preferred cash," Mr Bick said.
"The lunches were always paid for by Mr Gatto. They were always large, between six and 20 people, and there were usually building union representatives at these lunches," he said.

In total, Mr Sent was said to have handed over more than $223,000 to Mr Gatto's company.
Mr Sent claimed company chairman David Legge and other employees were told about the arrangement and it had saved Primelife hundreds of thousands of dollars in avoided delays and site allowances, Mr Bick said.
Court told of Gatto retainers Australian Financial Review May 17, 2006

May 2006 "The boys"

- - - - Mr Sent would meet once a month with Gatto and his associates - whom he openly referred to as "the boys" - - -
Primelife paid $100,000 for Gatto: Sent The Age May 17, 2006

May 2006 Big cash payments

Mr Sent also agreed to give Mr Gatto three special $50,000 payments for site negotiations, one in cash from his own pocket that he said was reimbursed by Primelife via a $100,000 pay rise.
Sacked boss says Gatto dealings OK Herald-Sun May 17, 2006

May 2006 Payments hidden

Primelife Corporation's former chief executive, Ted Sent, made cash payments in unmarked envelopes to underworld figure Mick Gatto for solving union disputes but the invoices were not delivered until after Mr Sent left the company, a Melbourne court heard yesterday.
The court also heard that Mr Sent often failed to provide an invoice when he asked Ms Porter to arrange cash cheques from the accounts department - in breach of company procedures.
Gatto invoices arrived late, court told Australian Financial Review May 18, 2006

May 2006 Lunching with Gatto

Once a month, he would attend lunch at the now notorious La Porcella on Rathdowne Street, the restaurant where another gangland figure, Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, was fatally shot in 2004. Mr Gatto was charged with, and later acquitted of, murder.

Mr Sent's visits were about business. His pocket would contain a cheque or an unmarked envelope filled with cash - sometimes both - to be handed to Mr Gatto as payment for industrial relations services at Primelife building sites.
It heard that cheques drawn for Mr Gatto were typically in small denominations. During May 2003, as many as 20 cash cheques were written for $40,000 - all for Mr Gatto. And the money, cashed at different bank branches in the city, was placed in unmarked envelopes.

Ms Porter, who worked closely with Mr Sent for 25 years, did not want large sums of cash traced back to the company, she told the court.

She said that Mr Sent would become irate if the money he requested was not collected fast enough and, on occasion, she lent it to him. Her boss did not know how to use an ATM.
Sent delivered cash to Gatto over goat and wine The Age May 20, 2006

May 2006 Death threats

PRIMELIFE'S former boss Ted Sent was subject to death threats and may have paid underworld figure Mick Gatto for personal protection, a court has heard.

Mr Sent's long-time personal assistant Sandi Porter told the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday she had discussed security issues with her boss after he received several death threats, including one from a Sydney-based person.
The court also heard yesterday that $60,000 was paid to Mr Gatto's company between April and June 2003, which was 10 times higher than the monthly retainer Mr Gatto typically requested.
Primelife: high price of Gatto's industrial actions The Age May 23, 2006

Jun 2006 Sent needed 20 bodyguards

Ousted Primelife Corporation boss Ted Sent paid to have 20 bodyguards sit among shareholders at an annual meeting, a Melbourne court was told yesterday.
"You were used to using money from Primelife for your personal protection, weren't you?" asked Mr North.

"It was important for the company to protect me, it was in the company's interests that this action had taken place," Mr Sent replied.

The court has previously heard that threats were allegedly made by Michael Wilson, the former owner of Primelife's predecessor.
Sent had 20 bodyguards at firm's meeting Australian Financial Review June 6, 2006

Jun 2006 Gatto's evidence

Mr Gatto, who was charged and acquitted of the 2004 murder of alleged hitman Andrew Veniamin, revealed his unlikely relationship with Mr Sent started when he was hired (in 1995) to take care of death threats made against the retirement village developer.

The pair were introduced in the mid 1990s by Mr Gatto's good friend Mario Condello, who has since been murdered. The trio met at a restaurant in Carlton to discuss Mr Sent's problem, the court heard.
The court was told Mr Gatto and Mr Condello travelled to Sydney where they tracked down a Bert Kidd, who had been approached by a person wanting Mr Sent to be physically harmed.

Mr Gatto said Mr Kidd would have carried out the harm personally, or chosen a subcontractor, had he not fixed the problem.
Mr Gatto said he then took Mr Kidd out "for a drink".

Asked by Primelife counsel Tim North how much that drink cost, Mr Gatto replied that it was about $60,000.
Mr Gatto's company, Arbitrations and Mediations, received monthly retainer fees as well as annual payments of $50,000 from the retirement village developer.
Gatto tells of contract and a $60,000 drink The Sydney Morning Herald June 7, 2006

Jun 2006 Gatto's business

Wearing a pinstripe suit, a jewel-encrusted watch and several gold rings, Mr Gatto described himself as a consultant to the building industry. When asked to clarify what his company did, Mr Gatto said: "I have an affinity with the union movement. I negotiate agreements regarding site allowances, OH&S compliance, make sure it's all above board, make sure it's all unionised and that everything is done within the union's scope."

Arbitrations and Mediations had no other employees and no office, the Victorian Supreme Court was told. Invoices were prepared by Mr Gatto's wife during her lunch breaks while working as a public servant.

Despite the company's name, Mr Gatto said he never conducted any arbitrations for Primelife.

"I don't really know what arbitrations means," he said.
Gatto outlines Primelife roleAustralian Financial Review June 7, 2006

There seems to have been a degree of paranoia. Both video and phone tapping were ongoing and extensive. The board who were videotaped were unaware of this.

Apr 2006 Board meetings videoed

TWO leading businessmen were secretly filmed during a vicious boardroom battle for a company that paid underworld figure Mick Gatto about $250,000.
The 18 months of filming took place during a fierce battle to grab control of the company from then managing director and chief executive officer, Ted Sent.
Top businessmen in boardroom drama The Advertiser April 21, 2006

Apr 2006 Phone monitoring

The court documents also allege that a decision to install phone monitoring equipment and carry out phone tappings of staff and executives was not made at a board level.
TYCOON'S SPIED ON Secret camera in giant company's boardroom Herald-Sun April 21, 2006

May 2006 Sent called a crook

According to the plaintiff's version of a transcript from a board meeting held in July 2003, Mr de Crespigny told fellow directors of a conversation with a South Australian senator, who described Mr Sent as "the biggest crook in Australia".

The board discussion, which took place in Mr Sent's absence, also canvassed the issue of removing Ms Porter, who the directors felt was "an absolute disaster" and "a bitch".
Primelife board meetings secretly taped The Sydney Morning Herald May 16, 2006

May 2006 Instructions ignored

Mr Bick said she had also forgotten to turn off the video cameras in the boardroom when asked to do so by incoming company chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny.
Court told of Gatto retainers Australian Financial Review May 17, 2006

May 2006 TV and phone monitoring

Primelife's former deputy chief executive, Sandi Porter, covertly recorded 65,440 employee telephone calls - more than 1 million minutes' worth - on behalf of former chief Ted Sent, the Victorian Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Ms Porter had drawn up a list of 16 employees - including senior executives, the group general counsel and her own personal assistant - whom she thought needed to be kept under surveillance.
The court heard that when current chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny joined the board in mid-2003 he asked Mr Sent and Ms Porter: "I gather past procedures here have been that you record meetings. Is that happening now?" In front of the rolling cameras, both replied no.
Primelife deputy's secret vigil Australian Financial Review May 19, 2006

May 2006 All of it is admitted

TWO-and-a-half years - or 922 days, to be precise - is how long it would take to listen to the recordings of private telephone conversations of Primelife staff that were secretly taped by a senior executive.
Ms Porter, who is suing Primelife for wrongful dismissal, said she did not seek the permission of the board or the chief executive, Ted Sent, to have the calls monitored. She also admitted to recording and watching a videotape of a board meeting held on July 16, 2003, despite being asked by Primelife chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny to ensure that cameras were switched off.
Tale of the tapes: Primelife battles through its 'Portergate' scandal The Age May 19, 2006

Jul 2006 Persecution complex?

Justice Philip Mandie has heard how the head office of a company that houses so many of our arthritic and memory-challenged older citizens was plagued by the spectre of persecution.

He has heard how for some years Sent and Porter believed they were battling enemies inside and outside the company and how they employed what some would consider extreme strategies to fend off perceived dangers.
SENT PACKING The Age July 1, 2006

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Tax Avoidance

To fund the building of new retirement facilities and enable rapid expansion Sent set up a tax avoidance scheme which the tax department initially accepted but later rejected. Some investors ended by paying almost double for their investment. Groups of investors were sold investment opportunities. They paid to build the villages and then benefited when the units were sold. The scheme was illegal and not properly registered with authorities. There were concerns about the adequacy of the information given to investors.

Oct 2003 Syndicated investment system

The syndicated ownership system underpinning the rapid expansion of the aged-care group Primelife has been thrown into doubt by the Tax Office, which has been disallowing the 1999 tax claims of syndicate members.
The company, - - - , said yesterday it had been negotiating with the Tax Office for 10 months and hoped to settle the issue soon.
Melbourne doctor Nathan Pinskier, who invested $100,000 in the $15 million purchase and conversion of Montclaire, a historic mansion in Brighton, into an aged-care hostel, said the knock-back from the Tax Office arrived with a 25 per cent penalty. - - - - - Dr Pinskier said that with general interest charges, instead of receiving a handsome rebate, the investment would end up costing him about $200,000.
Tax Office Disallowance Of Claims Calls Into Doubt Primelife's The Age October 14, 2003

Jun 2004 Tax avoidance scheme

Primelife pioneered a tax effective arrangement under which it pre-sold senior living projects to investor syndicates which then generated development profits as the units were completed and sold to retirees. It then received management fees for running the facilities and stood to derive a further income stream from deferred management fees each time the units were vacated and on-sold to new residents.

The group's annual report last year shows that over five years it had acquired sites and pre-sold over $400 million of planned developments to investors.
Primelife Reviews Its Developments The Sydney Morning Herald June 7, 2004

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Conflict with Business Partners

Sent seems to have been a rather abrasive and aggressive character with few self-doubts. He was soon in conflict with some of the builders with whom he had entered into commercial ventures.

He must have been persuasive as he had persuaded key builders to sign themselves into bankruptcy (which they later strenuously denied understanding). Primelife then closed one of them down and appointed a liquidator. A long and costly court battle commenced. This law suit was simply representative. Sent was criticised for the vast amount spent on court actions and for his reluctance to settle issues out of court. Company cash disappeared into law suits.

Mar 2002 Joint venture conflicts

Ted Sent, chief executive of retirement village group Primelife, will be asked to tell the Supreme Court how a $1.1 million loan to a former joint-venture partner escalated into a debt to Primelife of more than $20million
The examination under Section 596E of the Corporations Act will trace the history of joint-venture retirement-village projects that soured in 1999, resulting in attempts by both parties to sue one another.

They were among several joint ventures the listed Primelife undertook with investors during its development phase in the late 1990s.
Primelife Heads To Court Over $20m Debt Claim The Age March 12, 2002

Apr 2002 Defamations suits and gagging

A former senior manager with the aged-care group Primelife said yesterday he had been "gagged'' by the courts from speaking about his former employer.
Mr Andrejic said he could not imagine why Primelife had sought the orders. - - - - .
After that, Primelife instituted proceedings against him for defamation and breach of trust and he issued a counterclaim for unfair dismissal. Mr Andrejic said the proceedings were stayed pending payment of legal fees by him to Primelife's solicitors.
Former Primelife Manager `gagged' The Age April 5, 2002

Apr 2002 Business dealings

The administration hearing has heard allegations that the Bufalo Corp principals, John and Joe Bufalo and their father, signed security documents in Primelife's favour, including the debenture, without independent legal advice and no understanding of what they were - - .
Primelife Share Sales Challenged The Age April 23, 2002

Aug 2003 Primelife's legal spending criticised

A Supreme Court judge has criticised the "incredible amounts" of shareholders' money that listed aged-care group Primelife spent "with abandon" on its legal battle with a former joint-venture partner.

Justice Hartley Hansen said the damages action between Primelife and the liquidators of Bufalo Corporation was a bloated and indulgent exercise in which the costs must have reached Everest proportions.

"If it was their own money it would have been resolved a long time ago," he said.
Judge Hits Primelife Spending In Legal Battle The Age August 2, 2003

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Financial Difficulties

The business involved the investment of capital with a long delay before profits were realised. New residents paid a bond but most of the profit was accrued when the residents left and the units were sold on again. Because of this by 2002 liquidity was a problem. The company desperately needed an injection of cash if it was to survive. The share price steadily dropped from $3 in 2001 to less than half that 4 years later. It was clear that capital would not be invested while Sent remained in charge of the company and he agreed to relinquish control.

Dec 2002 Short of capital

"The company has a fundamental shortage of capital. We need to solve this problem. We need to find a partner with deep pockets," Mr Legge (chairman) was reported to have said.
Primelife needs a wealthy partner. The Australian December 6, 2002

Nov 2003 Profit structure

To his credit, Sent built very good retirement villages, which were also well managed. However, most of the income for a retirement village company comes in when the occupants die or leave the village and the company earns a deferred management fee, which can be anywhere from 10 to 33 per cent on the resale of units.

This means that the capital expenditure is up front, in the purchase or building of the villages, and the income stream develops several years later. And if the company is expanding rapidly by building more villages, more capex is being incurred ahead of the income stream. Like many expanding industries, the increased amount of cash needed at the front of the pipeline tends to dwarf the income currently derived from the end of the pipeline.
Sent Denies Bugging Primelife Board Australian Financial Review November 22, 2003

Jun 2004 Losing money

Shares in the nursing home company plummeted 26c yesterday, or 17 per cent, to a five-year low of $1.25.
Meanwhile, minutes of a Primelife managers meeting in June, which have been obtained by The Australian, purport to show that the company is making sizeable monthly losses, and that 10 unit sales had been cancelled in May, leaving only one.
Primelife nursing share price after its write-off warning The Australian June 30, 2004

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Unscrambling the Mess

Corporate heavyweights Robert Champion de Crespigny and Ron Walker were the white knights who promised a $10 million injection. de Crespigny became chairman and there were several board changes. Sent remained on the board.

Apr 2006 Walker and de Crespigny arrive

Mr Walker is one of Australia's most powerful figures, who heads Melbourne GP Corporation and more recently spearheaded the Commonwealth Games.

Robert J. Champion de Crespigny was the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Normandy Mining Limited.
TYCOON'S SPIED ON Secret camera in giant company's boardroom Herald-Sun April 21, 2006

The new board immediately began an investigation of the company’s affairs. They voluntarily took the illegal investment structures to ASIC and asked them to help them to legalise the arrangements in some way. They claimed that Sent had been illegally bugging the telephones of other directors and managers and reported this to the police.

The system of accounting was also changed when it was found that the profits from some of the investments were appearing on the balance sheet before they were paid. Accountants had signed off on this. There were huge write downs.

Jun 2003 Sent stays initially

Corporate heavyweights Robert Champion de Crespigny and Ron Walker have emerged as the white knights bailing out cash-strapped Melbourne retirement home developer, Primelife.
Mr de Crespigny and Mr Walker will pump $10 million into the company through a three-year $6 million loan facility and a $4.8 million share placement.

Primelife's beleaguered managing director Ted Sent saved his position and stays on the board. In the past two years, Mr Sent has given up controversial multimillion-dollar bonuses and unwound a damaging series of related-party transactions.
Primelife lives again. Australian Financial Review June 7, 2003

Jul 2003 A change of policy

At an extraordinary general meeting in Melbourne, Mr de Crespigny flagged a thorough review of Primelife's business methods and accounts in a bid to raise capital on the financial and investment markets, attract institutional investors, cut related party transactions and cease damaging litigation.

But Primelife is set to go back into the courts at the end of the month to fight the $10 million Bufalo case. Eight other legal disputes are waiting in the wings to be resolved.
Primelife Deal Approved Australian Financial Review July 17, 2003

Oct 2003 Write downs and losses

Mr de Crespigny has presided over a savage restructuring of Primelife's accounting methods in the past five months, which resulted in a write-down of $39.4 million and a loss of $29 million.
Primelife CEO Paid $850,000 Australian Financial Review October 28, 2003

Nov 2003 Accounting problems

Shareholders asked why auditors signed off accounts as "true and fair", when accommodation bonds were treated as income in 2002 -- but as bonds the following year, when that accounting policy was reversed.
Sent packing: Primelife `inquisition' The Australian November 25, 2003

By 2004 Sent had been fired and had commenced acrimonious legal actions. If the company thought that it could walk away from costly law suits it was wrong. It would be embroiled in multiple actions for another 3 years. The company was still restructuring.

Jun 2004 Staff cuts

RETIREMENT village developer and operator Primelife has cut deeply into its workforce, with about a dozen head office staff losing their jobs yesterday.

The company's new chief executive Jim Hazel said the business was being restructured and head office staff had been reduced by about 40 -- to 130 -- in the past nine months. "Hopefully, that will be the last of it," he said.

Both Mr Hazel and chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny firmly dismissed suggestions the business might be in trouble.
Primelife retires another dozen staff The Australian June 9, 2004

Aug 2004 Brawl with Sent

The board is engaged in a bitter public brawl with Mr Sent and has also been juggling with issues of poor cash flow and growing capital requirements.

The company claims to have a $1 billion development pipeline but cannot get projects started because banks are reluctant to lend on properties that cannot be secured because of legislation governing retirement villages.
Primelife braces for $30 million loss The Age August 5, 2004

Aug 2004 More law suits - architects sue

The legal entanglements of the embattled aged-care provider Primelife Corporation continue to grow. This time, the group's former architects are suing over alleged breaches of copyright and the repudiation of an agreement to work on a retirement village in Berwick.
Australian Planning Consultants and its owners, James and Nicholas Dalabrias, claim that in November last year, three weeks after Mr Sent was sacked, Primelife repudiated their five-year agreement to provide design services at the $52 million Casey Downs project after only 20 months.
New legal fight for embattled Primelife The Age August 6, 2004

Oct 2004 Investors sue

Two investor groups have served a $10 million-plus writ on Primelife Corporation, adding another layer of complexity to the retirement village group's $25 million worth of legal woes.

The syndicates have put their money into a $40 million retirement village project in Kew that is more than three years late and still not been started. Now they want their investment back with interest and compensation for lost income and missed tax benefits.
Each partner manages a syndicate of about 20 investors who paid a $10.2 million deposit on the $40.8 million project in response to an investment document issued by Primelife and Arthur Andersen.
Primelife's woes grow as investor groups sue for $10m The Age October 7, 2004

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Conflict with Stent -- Babcock and Brown

Sent was soon in conflict with the new board. They initiated an investigation of his conduct and then fired him. Sent took the issue to court and the judge temporarily reinstated him.

Sent now sold his stake in the company to the about to be listed international financiers Babcock and Brown who put in more capital. But this was not to be the end of Sent. He used the money he had been paid to initiate a tranche of lawsuits for wrongful dismissal, loss of income, for money owed to his private companies and on behalf of other shareholders claiming that de Crespigny and Walker had not raised money from banks as they had promised. The company was bogged down in the acrimony.

Oct 2003 Sent investigated

The new Primelife board, chaired by South Australian-based businessman Robert de Crespigny , ordered Mr Sent Primelife's managing director to stand aside yesterday "pending the outcome of an independent review being conducted into a number of matters".
Controversy has surrounded the retirement home empire that Mr Sent has built up over the past decade.
Mr de Crespigny said accommodation bonds, paid by incoming aged care residents, had been treated as current income. But they would now be booked as a liability because there was a risk that Primelife would have to return all or part of the deposit when a resident left.
Primelife Board Suspends Founder Sent Australian Financial Review October 8, 2003

Oct 2003 Sent sacked

The board of retirement village developer Primelife, headed by chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny, sacked the company's founder, Ted Sent, yesterday for breaches of his employment contract.
Board Sacks Primelife Founder Australian Financial Review October 31, 2003

Nov 2003 Sent reported to police

Sacked Primelife Corp managing director Ted Sent has been reported to the Federal Police over the alleged secret recording of 65,000 telephone conversations of senior executives made over several years.

A court was told yesterday that 15 telephone extensions at Primelife's offices in Collins Street had been wired to a recording device and when it was discovered the retirement home group's new chairman, Robert Champion de Crespigny, reported it to the Federal Police.
Mr Sent was removed from the company he founded because of the so-called illicit recordings as well as alleged cash irregularities totalling $220,000 and the disclosure of confidential information to a sacked former executive, Sandra Porter.

Mr Neil Young, QC, for Primelife, claimed that Mr Sent had conducted Primelife business outside Australia without the board's permission. He said there were conflicting issues over the conduct of business in his private companies, the Mainpoint group and Health Assist, while he was exclusively employed by Primelife.
Mr Sent, 63, of Eaglemont, has instituted a damages action in the Victorian Supreme Court against the company, alleging wrongful dismissal and yesterday Justice Geoffrey Nettle granted him an injunction forcing the board to retain him as a director until the case is heard.
More than $220,000 in cash had been extracted from the company on Mr Sent's instructions. Small cheques were cashed at several banks and provided to him and no proper records as to the disposition of the cash were kept.
Primelife Kingpin Accused Of Bugging The Sydney Morning Herald November 7, 2003

Nov 2003 Sent sues Primelife

The fight has only just begun at Primelife, where founder Ted Sent is hitting back, writes Nicole Lindsay.
Sent has launched a wrongful dismissal case and a writ has just been lodged by his private company, Mainpoint Enterprises, suing Primelife for a $4.7 million loan.
Writs Fly In Primelife Stoush Australian Financial Review November 17, 2003

Nov 2003 Sent sells to B&B

The $30 million deal between Mr Sent and the financial services giant Babcock & Brown - - - - . Babcock & Brown, which is 80 per cent-owned by its worldwide professional staff, paid $2.60 a share, a 5c premium on yesterday's close, for 61.2 million shares.
Primelife's Sent May Not Be Content With Retirement The Sydney Morning Herald November 28, 2003

Dec 2003 Another writ

Primelife founder Ted Sent yesterday lodged another writ against the aged-care property group in the Victorian Supreme Court, alleging Primelife had defaulted on a $3.2 million land transaction.
Founder Adds To Primelife Writs Australian Financial Review December 4, 2003

Feb 2004 Primelife wants to resolve legal issues

Moves are under way at Primelife Corporation board level to settle all the legal disputes that followed the sacking last October of founder and former managing director Ted Sent.
After turning in a six-month result stained with blood-red ink, the aged care group is hoping to resolve all its legacy issues by June 30 so it can get a clearer picture of its financial future.
Primelife Tries To Get On With Life After Suffering A Loss The Age February 27, 2004

Jun 2004 More legal actions

He (Sent) said he had instructed solicitors to begin proceedings in the Federal Court today seeking an order to make the board pursue the pair (de Crespigny and Walker) under the Trade Practices and Fair Trading Acts for conduct he believed had caused Primelife to suffer loss.
Meanwhile, Sydney accountant Ian Pratt confirmed that his practice, Trood Pratt, was preparing to take legal action to force Primelife to begin work on its retirement village at Mt Evelyn, east of Melbourne, or return its money.
Primelife urged to sue chairman The Sydney Morning Herald June 30, 2004

Jul 2004 Sent fights back

Business partners Robert Champion de Crespigny and Ronald Walker have made allegedly false, misleading or deceptive representations to Primelife Corp, according to documents filed in the Federal Court (by Sent).
Primelife founder turns accusation on de Crespigny The Sydney Morning Herald July 1, 2004

Oct 2004 Primelife sues a Sent company

A fresh bout of legal action has broken out at troubled retirement home developer and operator Primelife, which is embroiled in dozens of legal stoushes, ranging from unfair dismissal cases to unregistered investment schemes.

Yesterday, Primelife issued legal proceedings against its former managing director and founder, Ted Sent, over land at Point Cook in Melbourne's south-western suburbs.
Mainpoint would buy land and put together projects that were onsold to Primelife, which would then sell projects to investment schemes before they were even started, providing the investors with a tax advantage. Primelife would then record the revenue from the sales on its books, even though the projects had not been constructed.
The company had borrowed nearly $20 million from the two parties in the past year. Primelife was attempting to raise $75 million to fund its development pipeline.
Primelife action targets founder Australian Financial Review October 14, 2004

Oct 2004 Claims damages from Sent for misconduct

Primelife has counter-claimed (against Sent), alleging serious misconduct, including secret cash payments to building industry consultant Mick Gatto, who is in prison facing a murder charge.
Mr Hazel (Primelife management) said he had found "a range of accounting and financial irregularities, unauthorised related-party transactions, poor contracting and management practices, transactions that were entered into on uncommercial terms, legal uncertainty surrounding the structure of a number of Primelife's financing transactions and a considerable number of ongoing commercial disputes with various parties."
Primelife paid Sent $326,000 Australian Financial Review October 26, 2004

Nov 2004 Another Sent company sues

Primelife (Glenvale), a subsidiary of Primelife, is being sued by a private company, Sunglen Developments, which is controlled by former Primelife chief Ted Sent, his long-time deputy Sandi Porter, and Northcote accountant and former Primelife director Tony de Luca.
Court rules out Primelife submission Australian Financial Review November 1, 2004

Dec 2004 One action withdrawn

Mr Sent has decided to withdraw a Federal Court action that sought to compel the company to sue the pair on behalf of shareholders, but he intends to continue to take a stance on issues of good corporate governance.
Former Primelife chief drops lawsuit The Age December 4, 2004

Sent and his deputy’s unfair dismissal actions came to court in May 2006. A lot of dirty laundry was aired. The allegations of payment to underworld figures, and of video and phone surveillance have been documented in an earlier section. There is more information about what it is claimed happened below.

May 2006 Wronful dismissal

Mr Sent and his deputy, Sandi Porter, are both suing Primelife for wrongful dismissal. Their sackings roughly coincided with the arrival of Mr Champion de Crespigny and Mr Walker on the board.
Further, the independent review of Mr Sent's business dealings by law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, which officially led to his sacking because he refused to co-operate, was biased, Mr Bick said.

He said the law firm had been advising Primelife for weeks on ways to dismiss Mr Sent.
'Crook' remark on secret tape Australian Financial Review May 16, 2006

May 2006 Serious misconduct

Primelife alleges serious misconduct by the pair including the video-taping of board meetings, setting of illegal phone taps, the payment of money to Mr Gatto's company and a refusal to co-operate with an investigation into Mr Sent's activities.
Court told of Gatto retainers Australian Financial Review May 17, 2006

May 2006 Porter fired but stayed on

PRIMELIFE'S former deputy chief executive Sandi Porter continued to work for the company for six weeks after she was told her employment had been terminated immediately, a court has heard.
Primelife deputy CEO typed her own pink slip, court hears The Age May 18, 2006

May 2006 Removing material

During cross-examination, which today will go into its third day, Ms Porter admitted to removing files from the office before being handed her termination letter, that she had destroyed company property without authority and that she had forgotten to turn cameras off despite repeatedly being asked to do so.
Primelife deputy's secret vigil Australian Financial Review May 19, 2006

This court case aired the company's dirty linnen. Evidence was given by all the paticipants including Gatto. It has received extensive press coverage which has done little more than confirm the many allegations made earlier.

ABC TV's 7.30 report gave an overview of this bruising case on 31 August. This was done at the end of proceedings but before a decision was handed down.

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ASIC Intervenes

ASIC took the investment schemes to the courts asking the court to appoint an auditor to examine the books and sort out what had happened. This was vigorously and successfully opposed by phalanxes of lawyers representing interested parties. Primelife pointed out that if ASIC forced the issue and the investments came unstuck the company would be unable to survive and the many retirees whose bonds had secured them tenancy would lose all of this money.

Primelife went to the market for money. ASIC clearly had little sympathy with the new management. They blocked the float until the company had made multiple revisions to its prospectus adequately disclosing its true operating position. The float was subsequently under-subscribed.

The extracts below cover both issues.

Jun 2004 ASIC notified of syndicate problems

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange last night, Primelife's new managing director, Jim Hazel, said the company had voluntarily approached the Australian Securities and Investments Commission with concerns about its 23 property syndicates.

Mr Hazel said an ongoing review at the company had raised questions about whether the syndicates complied with managed investment, fundraising and licensing provisions of the Corporations Act.
"The aggregate value of the 23 syndicates is $130 million, offset by the value of the assets comprising the syndicates and Primelife's own position as an investor in some of the syndicates."

The tax advantaged syndicates, known as TR94/24 syndicates, were put in place by Primelife between 1998 and 2000 when the company was headed by founder Ted Sent.
Primelife faces $60m write-offs Australian Financial Review June 29, 2004

Jul 2004 Raising capital

Aged care group Primelife Corp Ltd said today it will require as much as $80 million in additional capital funding as it undergoes restructuring.
Primelife says will need up to $80 mln for restructuring Australian Associated Press Financial News Wire July 26, 2004

Aug 2004 ASIC blocks the float

ROBERT Champion de Crespigny and Ron Walker's loss-making retirement home developer Primelife cannot seem to win a trick these days.

On top of distracting legal action from ousted founder Ted Sent, the corporate regulator yesterday put on hold Primelife's key $75 million rights issue, demanding greater disclosure.
ASIC puts Primelife rights issue on hold The Australian August 14, 2004

Sep 2004 ASIC wants accountant to review syndicates

Australia's corporate watchdog has requested a court-appointed accountant to review aged care group Primelife Corp Ltd's managed investment schemes
ASIC seeks court-appointed accountant to review Primelife scheme Australian Associated Press Financial News Wire September 27, 2004

Oct 2004 Risk of insolvency if ASIC closes syndicates

Beleaguered aged-care operator Primelife Corporation has told the corporate regulator that it faces insolvency if the Federal Court forces it to close its unregistered investment syndicates.

More than 650 investors have already laid out $123 million. If Primelife had to refund investors' money, it would be wound up, threatening services to residents of aged-care facilities. The residents' chances of recovering $80 million paid in accommodation bonds would be zero.

Affidavits filed with the court reveal that Primelife earlier this year sought to cut a deal with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission that would have allowed 17 retirement villages and aged-care facilities to operate under existing arrangements free of sanctions, leaving the door open to prosecute former managing director Ted Sent.
The papers show ASIC's enforcement directorate found the solution unacceptable - - - - .
On Monday, the Federal Court will hear ASIC's application to appoint Michael Scales and John Georgakis of Ernst & Young to investigate the solvency of 25 unregistered managed investment schemes, alleged to breach the Corporations Act.

The action, which will be costly for Primelife, was initiated after the company reported itself to ASIC but sought to blame Mr Sent and former company secretary Sandra Porter.
Primelife tells regulator it faces ruin The Age October 1, 2004

Oct 2004 Float prospectus approved

TROUBLED retirement village developer and operator Primelife lodged six draft supplementary prospectuses for its $75million capital raising before finally having its seventh accepted by the corporate regulator.
ASIC refused Primelife six times The Australian October 1, 2004

Oct 2004 Primelife wins first syndicate round

The corporate regulator lost a bid yesterday to have an investigative accountant appointed to Primelife's unregistered managed investment schemes.

Dozens of lawyers turned out yesterday in the Federal Court in Melbourne to fight against an attempt by the Australian Security and Investments Commission (Asic) to investigate the affairs of the 37 schemes and cross-examine the scheme managers via independent accountants.
However, Asic was forced to back away significantly from that demand and others, including the appointment of a liquidator to wind up the schemes.
In an affidavit filed in the court yesterday, it was revealed that Primelife had told Asic that if all the syndicates were wound up it would result in the winding up of Primelife itself.
Asic loses bid to probe Primelife Australian Financial Review October 5, 2004

Nov 2004 The syndicates

ASIC in early October launched Federal Court action to get investigating accountants appointed to the 27 syndicates.

It is concerned that entry-level investors were not given sufficient information about their investments, and it alleges that the syndicate structures should have been registered as managed investment schemes.

Syndicate participants initially claimed big tax deductions on their investments, but the Tax Office later shut off the schemes' deductibility.
ASIC secures undertakings from Primelife property syndicates The Age November 27, 2004

Feb 2005 Impact on share price

But protracted investigations by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission into Primelife's fund-raising prospectuses and investment syndicates that bought Primelife projects have crucified the share price.
Primelife shows it can be deft Australian Financial Review February 11, 2005

Apr 2005 Primelife to wind up syndicates

ASIC yesterday reached a mediated agreement with Primelife but proceedings remain against a number of other parties involved in the allegedly unregistered schemes.
The aged-care manager and developer has agreed to declare the schemes should have been registered under the Act and will wind them up and resolve outstanding matters with other defendants.
Primelife agrees to wind up unregistered schemes The Courier-Mail April 2, 2005

Jul 2005 Court ruling

The Federal Court has ordered the managers of two investment schemes associated with Primelife Corporation Ltd to refrain from dealing with the assets or disposing of any sale proceeds.
ASIC was acting on investor complaints about the schemes and failed to receive adequate explanations from the managers when it sought the injunctions.
Court stops dealings in Primelife schemes The Sydney Morning Herald July 28, 2005

Sep 2005 Negotiated settlements

The Federal Court has made orders clearing the way for the winding up of 16 unregistered investment schemes, with more expected next month.
Presiding over a packed courtroom where 13 legal teams were prepared to fight ASIC over the issue last October, Justice Alan Goldberg expressed concerns over the potentially high costs of a protracted battle. He ordered a process of document discovery and encouraged negotiation rather than confrontation.

This resulted in a mid-year settlement, with Primelife paying $1 million towards the cost of the ASIC-appointed accountant and an undisclosed sum towards ASIC's legal fees.
Primelife on way out of legal web The Age September 30, 2005

Apr 2006 Deals with investors

Investors in a failed Primelife retirement village have struck a deal to claw back about 8¢ in the dollar on condition they do not pursue the company for running an illegal investment scheme.

But a Federal Court judge has asked to see the advice given to the investors - who are mostly "mums and dads" - to make sure they are not being duped a second time.
The previous management of Primelife had failed to satisfy prospectus requirements and did not appoint a responsible entity to separate the assets from the scheme's operators, both breaches of the Corporations Act.
Cloud over Primelife deal Australian Financial Review April 7, 2006

June 2006 Winding up syndicates

The Federal Court of Australia has made final orders completing the winding up of an unregistered managed investment scheme involving the Montclaire Hostel and Primelife Corporation Limited following proceedings brought by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
* a deed of settlement between Primelife and the Scheme investors pursuant to which the principal asset of the Scheme was sold back to Primelife; and

* the net proceeds of that sale, having been returned to investors in the Scheme.
While ASIC has entered into terms of settlement with Primelife, the proceedings against the other defendants are ongoing.
ASIC completes windup of retirement village scheme Ralph Wragg Australian Business News June 21, 2006

Jun 2006 14 to go

Corporate watchdog ASIC said yesterday it had now finalised 10 proceedings. A further 14 have been ordered to be wound up.
Primelife scheme to be wound upThe Australian June 22, 2006

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The company progressively resolved and settled the multiple disputes which were eating up its cash reserves. It was soon if rather prematurely talking about renewed growth and trying to raise capital from the market. It planned to enter at-home aged care but it is not clear if it actually did so.

Primelife, Babcock and Brown, and the giant construction company Multiplex formed an arrangement to advance funds for the development of retirement facilities. Multiplex which soon had its own troubles claimed the planned developments were too small and soon sold its interest to Babcock and Brown.

In the midst of its troubles Primelife launched an unsuccessful takeover bid for the newly listed Aevum. It has since accumulated a substantial holding in Aevum.

Primelife formed PrimeLiving Trust with Babcock and Brown and the Gold Coast Group MFS Ltd. MFS also invested in retirement companies Village Life and Villa World. The trust planned to exploit consolidation opportunities.

The company boasted that its troubles were over when it stopped losing money by the end of 2005. Investors were not so convinced and in 2006 there were still reservations about its cash reserves. The share price was still falling.

Aug 2004 New ventures

Primelife also announced "a series of corporate initiatives", including a proposed development joint venture between Primelife, Multiplex and Babcock & Brown Pty Ltd.
Primelife $80m capital raising; teams up with Multiplex Ralph Wragg Australian Business News August 6, 2004

Aug 2004 Multiplex deal

CONSTRUCTION giant Multiplex yesterday came to the assistance of retirement home developer Primelife, bearing a welcome equity injection of $5million and a deal to jointly develop projects.
Primelife and Multiplex will each commit at least $10 million to the joint venture, in which they will each have a 45 per cent stake. Babcock & Brown will hold 10 per cent.
Multiplex rides to Primelife's rescue The Australian August 7, 2004

Aug 2004 Still no money to expand

Struggling with poor cash flow and banks reluctant to lend it money, the company has been unable to start work on a planned billion-dollar pipeline of development projects.
Primelife raising runs into ASIC wall The Age August 14, 2004

Oct 2004 Fundraising falls short

Retirement village developer Primelife has completed its $75 million fundraising exercise, falling $15 million short of its target.
Primelife fundraising comes up short Australian Financial Review October 20, 2004

Nov 2004 Takeover attempt of Aevum

Primelife Corporation Ltd announced a takeover proposal for Aevum Ltd, Sydney-based retirement village operator, scheduled to commence trading on November 18. The acquisition is by an off-market scrip offer by Primelife for all the shares in Aevum.
PRIMELIFE BIDS FOR NEWLY-LISTED AEVUM Australian Company News Bites November 17, 2004

Nov 2004 Talk of home care

RETIREMENT village developer Primelife has flagged a move into at-home aged-care services, while lining up acquisitions in the rapidly growing but fragmented sector.
Primecarers would provide and co-ordinate medical, household and other services to home-based clients, operating from Primelife's existing retirement villages and aged-care facilities. It would begin operating early next year in Melbourne and be rolled out nationally over the next three years.

Primelife would own 50 per cent of the new business, with the other half held by senior management.
Primelife ponders home care plan The Australian November 27, 2004

Nov 2004 Primecarers formed

- - - - - - came as Primelife directors told shareholders the company had formed a joint venture, Primecarers, to provide full aged-care services to the elderly in their homes.
ASIC secures undertakings from Primelife property syndicates The Age November 27, 2004

Dec 2004 Joint venture

Primelife Corporation Ltd has entered into a strategic development joint venture with Babcock & Brown Ltd and Multiplex Group.

Primelife also confirmed that Multiplex has completed its $5 million strategic investment in Primelife, acquiring 4 million shares at $1.25 per share, representing a total investment of $5 million.
PRIMELIFE SIGNS JV WITH BABCOCK AND MULTIPLEX Australian Company News Bites December 15, 2004

Feb 2005 Aevum bid fails

The bid to buy Aevum and its $53 million cashbox went awry from the start. It was launched last November on the eve of Aevum's listing on the stock exchange, with the effect of ramping up Aevum's stock.
Primelife shows it can be deft Australian Financial Review February 11, 2005

Sep 2005 Development projects

The company had more than $250 million worth of development under way at its three flagship projects around Melbourne: Waterford Park at Rowville; Woodlands Park at Berwick; and Martha's Point at Mt Martha.
Primelife staunches bleeding Australian Financial Review September 9, 2005

Sep 2005 Multiplex pulls out

MULTIPLEX Group has decided to sell its 45 per cent stake in a joint venture with Primelife Corporation and Babcock & Brown to develop retirement villages and aged-care facilities.
Multiplex will sell its 4 million shares to Babcock & Brown for $1.25 per share, which should enable the company to recoup its initial investment.
Up-sized Multiplex exits down-sized Primelife-B&B deal The Age September 28, 2005

Oct 2005 Establishes PrimeLiving Trust with MFS

Primelife Corp Ltd (ASX:PLF) and Babcock & Brown Ltd (ASX:BNB) have established a retirement living trust to take advantage of the emerging consolidation opportunities in the Australasian retirement village market.

The unlisted trust is PrimeLiving Trust and will be jointly owned and managed by Primelife, Babcock & Brown and MFS Ltd (ASX:MFS).
Primelife and Babcock & Brown establish retirement trust Ralph Wragg Australian Business News October 12, 2005

Nov 2005 New development in Queensland

The pair signed a binding agreement for a 150-unit retirement village and nine-hole golf course development at Innes Park, Bundaberg, Queensland.
But Mr Hazel (Primelife) said it had no intention of using the rental model.

This has brought some other players (eg Village Life) in the industry to grief.
Primelife and B&B toast first venture Australian Financial Review November 29, 2005

Mar 2006 Buying into Aevum

The unlisted trust, jointly owned and managed by Babcock & Brown, MFS and Primelife, is believed to have ended up with the lion's share of a 16.4 per cent stake in Aevum but the exact size was unclear last night.
Insiders said it was unlikely that the trust would end up with the entire chunk as Primelife already held a 6.7 per cent stake in Aevum and the new shares would trigger a takeover situation.
PrimeLiving moves on Aevum Australian Financial Review March 22, 2006

May 2006 Splitting the investment to avoid takeover

Primelife's interest in Aevum remains at 16,363,535 (19.9%) and PrimeLiving's shareholding has increased from 10,812,114 (13.17%) to 16,363,535 (19.9%).

Jun 2006 B&B increases and dominates partnership

Primelife Corporation and financial services firm Babcock & Brown Ltd are in talks about creating a new retirement and aged care industry fund.
Aged care provider Primelife today said Babcock & Brown hoped to bring its investment interests in the retirement and aged care industry together to develop a new property business known as B&B Communities.

Babcock & Brown has an interest in Primelife, PrimeLiving Trust and Aevum.
Primelife managing director Jim Hazel said he shared the vision of pulling together a larger-scale vehicle in what had formerly been a cottage industry.
"But the general principle of bringing together a group of opportunities and making a large-scale Australasian business which can be a market leader is obviously attractive."

Mr Hazel said the move was indicative of the aged care and health sectors becoming increasingly appealing to investors as Australia's ageing baby boomers change the country's demographics.
Primelife discusses new investment vehicle with Babock Australian Associated Press Financial News Wire22 June 22, 2006

Jul 2006 Buys from Regis

Primelife Corp (ASX:PLF) said PrimeLiving Trust, an unlisted acquisition trust jointly owned and managed by Primelife, Babcock & Brown Limited (ASX:BNB) and MFS (ASX:MFS) has acquired two retirement villages in Maroochydore and Mackay from Regis Group.
PrimeLiving Trust acquires two Queensland villages Ralph Wragg Australian Business News July 31, 2006

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Current Position 2006

de Crespigny and Walker had foregone their large salaries. They never took up their options as the share price continued to fall so never owned more than 5%.

Walker has now resigned. de Crespigny has taken on other projects and after directing his interests elsewhere he too resigned. Two other directors have resigned. The prospects and the future of the company is not yet decided. Babcock and Brown are left as the dominant and controlling influence and the comapny is very much part of their aged care empire. They continue to talk up the potential of the sector.

In spite of the many allegations made about Sent by Primelife he has not been prosecuted by authorities or by the police for phone bugging.

Nov 2006 de Crespigny and Walker forego fees

Primelife Corporation Ltd's shareholders have been informed that chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny and deputy chairman Ron Walker's have decided to forego all fees they would be entitled to as directors of the company until the company returns to profit, estimated to save around $200,000 per year.

Aug 2004 White knights have lost money

Albany Bay (Walker and de Crespigny's company which put up $10 million in 2003) was also granted options to acquire shares in the company that would have eventually given it 19.9% of Primelife's issued share capital. But those options have not been exercised, as Primelife shares have steadily fallen since. Walker and de Crespigny's shares are now worth about 35% less than when they bought them.
A tough old market BRW August 4, 2005

Aug 2005 Shares still down

Prime Life despite attracting investment from the likes of Babcock & Brown is now at almost a quarter of its share price value in early 2000.
Learning the population shuffle Australian Financial Review August 17, 2005

Dec 2005 Walker resigns

The reign of Primelife's so-called white knights appears to be almost over after Ron Walker announced his resignation yesterday as the company's deputy chairman.

The announcement of Mr Walker's departure came as speculation mounts about Robert Champion de Crespigny's future with the Melbourne-based listed company after his appointment as chairman of new London-based mining company Greenwich Resources.

Mr Walker and Mr de Crespigny's company Albany Bay has a 5 per cent holding in Primelife, the retirement village and aged-care operator.
Primelife loses one of its white knights as Walker quits Australian Financial Review December 21, 2005

Jan 2006 Shares still tumbling

In fact, it's been largely downhill since early November when the company made bullish presentations to analysts -- the share price is off by 27.5 per cent since then.
Sandra McPhee, who was also part of the new guard, and Babcock & Brown chief executive Phil Green, also left the board around the same time as Panaccio.
Maybe, but the interest payment amounted to only $2.9 million, which may suggest that Primelife's cash position is somewhat tight.
Primelife's share price was back to $1.23 when the company announced that it was capitalising the interest payment. The price then fell back sharply, closing at $1.04 yesterday, down 5.5c on the day.
Primelife not so sprightly as share price takes a tumble The Australian January 10, 2006

Feb 2006 A small profit

Primelife Corporation turned a small operating profit in the six months to December 31, helped by Melbourne's improving property market.
It has been a rough six months for Primelife shareholders as the share price grew from 80¢ in June to $1.48, only to tumble again, particularly after Ron Walker's resignation from the board in December. That heralded an 18¢ drop in Primelife's share price over three days, to $1.04.

Mr Hazel played down the likelihood that fellow "white knight" director Robert Champion de Crespigny would also be leaving because of his impending shift to London.
Primelife on track for turnaround Australian Financial Review February 28, 2006

Jul 2006 de Crespigny resigns

ROBERT Champion de Crespigny, who came to Primelife's rescue three years ago with Melbourne identity and fellow investor Ron Walker, has resigned as chairman of the retirement-home company.
Chairman de Crespigny quits Primelife board The Age July 4, 2006

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Consequences for Services

It is to be expected that in the midst of all the upheaval management would be cutting costs. They might not be fully in control of the facilities. If these were nursing homes with frail aged this could be a tragedy. Primelife did own and operate at least one aged care hostel, the Cumberland Views in Melbourne. It is not surprising that there were problems there which caused the accreditation authorities concern. A scandal about care would have been a major problem at this time. Primelife rushed management and staff to the hostel to sort out the problems.

Sep 2004 Nursing home problems

The battle over retirement village developer and operator Primelife cranked up a notch yesterday when the company was accused of falling standards at one of its homes.

The accusations centred on an aged care hostel, Cumberland Views, in Melbourne's south-eastern suburb of Wheeler's Hill.

A recent visit from the federal government's Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency to the hostel resulted in Primelife sending in a troubleshooting team to fix some problems identified by the agency.
"If operators of aged care homes are going through corporate changes, they must continue to meet their obligations under the Aged Care Act," she said.
Primelife accused of falling standards Australian Financial Review September 3, 2004

These villages are retired peoples’ homes and homeliness is an important consideration for the elderly. Market prescriptions, accreditation requirements and legal constraints can create a sterile environment. Pets are very much part of home and their benefits have been recognised by many aged care providers. Primelife like Craigcare ran into some difficulties with residents who wanted to have pets.

Mar 2006 No pets thanks

THE management of a luxury Springvale retirement village was forced to declare last week that it did not plan to allow pets at the centre, after more than 100 residents held a protest meeting.

"Pets continue NOT to be permitted at Lexington Gardens Retirement Village," Primelife general manager of operations Jennifer Clancy wrote in a letter to residents last week.
About 110 of Lexington Garden's 350 residents gathered at the village to discuss the issue to protest last Monday.
But she (from Primelife) said village management were fully aware Primelife had not changed its policy and that village manager Jane Long had "emphatically denied" telling the residents pets would be admitted. Ms Clancy plans to hold a meeting at Lexington Gardens on Friday.
No pets, protesters told Oakleigh Monash/Springvale Dandenong Leader March 8, 2006

Primelife's www site is at <>

For Updates:- A good way to check for recent developments in aged care is to go to the aged care crisis group's search page and enter the name of the company, nursing home or key words relating to any other matter in the search box. Most significant press reports are flagged there. The aged care crisis web site has recently been restructured and some of the older links used from this site may not work.

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This page created Sept 2006 by
Michael Wynne