Cameron Houston and Chris Vedelago
Rialto tower co-owners Lorenz and Rino Grollo are poised to acquire CBD strip club Showgirls Bar 20, which would bring them a step closer to transforming the notorious King Street precinct into an upmarket retail centre.
Liquidator John Lindholm is close to accepting an offer of about $12.5 million from the Grollo family, which has acquired most of the adjoining buildings during the past decade.
Lorenz Grollo did not respond to calls from Fairfax Media, but is expected to immediately close Showgirls Bar 20 and begin negotiations with the owners of Inflation nightclub, which would be the only King Street building between Collins Street and Flinders Lane that is not owned by the Grollos.
The King Street strip has long been associated with drunken violence and sleaze, but faces a dramatic overhaul if the Grollo’s seize control of the remaining buildings.
The imminent sale of Showgirls Bar 20 could spell the end for Planet Platinum – Australia’s only ASX-listed strip club and brothel owner – which has repeatedly moved to thwart liquidation proceedings and previous attempts by police and licensing authorities to close the business down.
Planet Platinum also controls Elsternwick brothel, Daily Planet, which is expected to be off-loaded to a separate buyer for up to $5 million.
Founded by John Trimble, nephew of underworld figure Robert Trimbole, Planet Platinum was placed into administration in May last year, when the Australian Securities and Investment Commission alleged a string of serious governance breaches.
In a 69-page affidavit presented to the Supreme Court, ASIC claimed that Planet Platinum and its board had “acted without regard to the rights, entitlements or interests of its shareholders”.
The corporate regulator took particular issue with a $2.7 million loan extended to Mr Trimble from his associated company Metropolis City Promotions.
In a desperate bid to stave off liquidators, Mr Trimble offered to ban himself from being a company director for two years as he and his son, Michael Trimble, moved to restructure the debt-ridden business.
But the offer was rejected by Supreme Court judge John Efthim, who cited more than 50 company law breaches when he placed Planet Platinum into liquidation in December last year.
He accused Mr Trimble of “mismanagement”, “misconduct” and a “deplorable lack of knowledge”.
The demise of Showgirls Bar 20 is unlikely to garner much sympathy from police, who have long been forced to deal with the drunks and violent brawls that spilled from the X-rated club.
In 2010, police attempted to strip the venue of its liquor licence in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but the decision was successfully appealed in the Supreme Court by Mr Trimble.
Mr Trimble and his son did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.
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