High Court hearing told that AIB lost confidence in Galway businessman

The High Court heard yesterday (Wednesday ) how Anglo Irish Bank has irretrievably lost confidence in the Galway businessman John Sweeney, who is currently fighting to save his many businesses.

Black Shore Holdings, the holding company owned by Mr Sweeney, has been wound up by the High Court, and now the beleaguered businessman is seeking court protection for other companies in his group which include three companies in the Sweeney Oil Group and Slyne, which owns the Marriot Hotel, spa, and car park, in Galway.

The order on Black Shore Holdings was made on the application by Esso Ireland, which is owed €12 million which arose from guarantees Mr Sweeney gave in relation to a connected company, Fate Park.

Fate Park, one of Sweeney’s oil distribution businesses, went into examinership last year and was subsequently bought out by Tedcastles, the Irish fuel business. However Esso Ireland continued to pursue Black Shore Holdings for the related debt.

Esso Ireland has also asked the court to appoint an examiner to four other companies in the group which are involved in the service station, retail, and hotel businesses.

According to reports, lawyers for Anglo Irish Bank, which is owed €9.5 million and is opposing the application for court protection for the other companies, told the court that the bank had lost confidence in Mr Sweeney and there had been a breakdown in trust. AIB and the Revenue Commissioners have told the court they are neutral to the application for examinership.

In a sworn statement to the court, Mr Sweeney said he had devoted his whole life to the businesses. He said he had borrowed personally and invested in the group. He also said he had made costs savings over the past 18 months and that staff had taken voluntary pay cuts and were willing to take further pay cuts to ensure the businesses survive. The case is continuing before the High Court.

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