The Victorian Treasurer is meeting senior management from construction giant Metricon Homes, amid reports the business is on the verge of collapse.
The reports emerged following the sudden death of the company’s founder, 71-year-old Mario Biasin, earlier this week.
Metricon’s chief executive Peter Langfelder denied the reports on Thursday, saying there was “no basis” to the rumours and the business was “strong and viable”.
But Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed representatives from Metricon – the biggest building business in Australia – would meet Treasurer Tim Pallas on Thursday. He said the meeting had been scheduled for some days and was not an unusual situation.
The agenda for the meeting has not been made public, but the Victorian government is one of the company’s biggest clients.
Metricon Homes has a $12 million contract to build social housing in Victoria, as well as 4000 houses under construction across Australia’s east coast.
“We work with many different companies that are facing many different challenges,” Mr Andrews said on Thursday.
“It’ll be an exercise in listening and then working out what, if any, support … can be meaningfully provided to that business.
“But it’s really important we don’t add fuel to [the speculation] and perhaps even make the job of dealing with their challenges even harder.”
Mr Langfelder noted Metricon, which employs about 2500 staff across Australia’s east coast, was still reeling following Mr Biasin’s sudden death earlier this week. He leaves behind a wife and four children.
“I ask for patience and consideration from our customers whilst our executives and staff deal with their loss,” Mr Langfelder said in a statement.
“We are focused on the business running as smoothly as possible, servicing all our customers and continuing to get homes to site and completed on time.”
The ABC is reporting that federal Labor figures met building industry representatives early on Thursday to discuss the issues facing Metricon.
“What’s getting worse, what’s really biting for companies like Metricon and others at the moment, is the area of skill shortages,” Shadow Housing Minister Jason Clare said.
“Whether it is skilled workers on site or whether it is labourers, this is something that everyone I speak to in this sector is worried about.”
Master Builders Victoria was “very optimistic” about the future of Australia’s largest home building company, MBV chief executive Rebecca Casson said.
“It is incumbent on everyone not to join in with the rumour narrative, especially during this incredibly challenging time,’” Ms Casson said in a statement.
“Now, more than ever, it is vital that our industry sticks together and supports each other. ”
Metricon’s rumoured troubles come as the construction sector faces rising insolvencies because of cost increases due to global supply chain issues.
Earlier this year, another major builder, ProBuild, also collapsed.
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