The High Court has approved the appointment of an interim examiner to Pierse Construction, one of the country's biggest construction companies.

Rossa Fanning, counsel for Pierse Construction, said the company had suffered a precipitous collapse in turnover and a reduced cash flow due to a downward spiral in a demand for houses.

But he said the company was optimistic that if restructured, it had a reasonable prospect of survival.

Mr Fanning said the company's cash flow projections were extremely positive and the company had been in discussions with a joint venture partner.

He said that the company was owed €30m in bad debts. This included a bad debt of €16m from one developer, Gannon Homes, which is now in NAMA. He said this debt has created an intolerable cash flow difficulty and added that if it was not for that debt, the company would not now be before the court.

Pierse said it supported the appointment of John McStay of McStay Luby as examiner to Pierse Contracting and Pierse Building Services, two companies within the Pierse Group.

'This appointment will enable the company to put in place a restructuring plan, with the objective of preserving its ongoing viable business thus maximising the return for all creditors and securing the protection of more than 100 employees,' a statement from the company said.

No money owed to Revenue - Pierse

The company added that all taxes are fully up to date and no money is owed to the Revenue Commissioners.

It said that in recent years, the company has introduced a series of cost savings, reducing overheads from €19m a year to the current level of €5m over a three year period. Salary cuts have been implemented at all levels and employee numbers have been reduced.

One of the top three construction firms in the country, Pierse Construction was founded in 1978.

Its operations include property and residential development, building contracting, civil and marine engineering, as well as specialist areas such as piling and foundation engineering, fit-outs, refurbishment, clean room engineering, demolition and marine outfalls.

It has worked on some of the largest construction projects in the country. Projects currently under construction include water supply schemes at Sandyford and Saggart in Dublin, a psychiatric unit in Bessboro, a number of schools under Public Private Partnerships and a number of service stations on the national roads network.

NAMA dismisses delay suggestions

NAMA has refused to comment on any specific case but made the point that the agency has advanced over €40m in working capital to various parties who have come into NAMA.

Dismissing any suggestion of delays in making decisions, a spokesperson said there was no credit application on the books with NAMA that has been outstanding for more than a week.

The agency says it has particularly onerous responsibilities in respect of any decisions in this regard because they are dealing with taxpayers' money.