Survival scheme may resolve bank’s concerns about Sweeney group, High Court told

John Sweeney pictured leaving the High Court on Tuesday. Photo: Courtpix.

John Sweeney pictured leaving the High Court on Tuesday. Photo: Courtpix.

A modified survival scheme for two companies in Galway businessman John Sweeney's Black Shore group may resolve Anglo Irish Bank's concerns about the scheme, the High Court heard today (Wed ).

The companies - Sweeney Oil Retail Ltd and Sweeney Oil Service Stations Ltd - employ 37 people at service stations and associated retail units in Westport, Co Mayo and at Clifden and Moycullen in Co Galway.

An examiner, Michael McAteer, was appointed to the companies earlier this year and had advanced survival proposals on the basis of which the companies are believed to have a reasonable prospect of survival. Both companies had always traded profitably but their exposure to other companies in the insolvent Black Shore group resulted in their financial difficulties.

Anglo is owed some €3.5 million by SORL and was the company’s' largest creditor. It claimed some €1.7 million being made available to it under the survival scheme was less than it would secure if it appointed a receiver who would ultimately sell the companies.

It also disputed valuations obtained by the examiner which valued the companies business at some €1.2 million and claimed the business has a value of up to €2.4 million.

Anglo previously installed a receiver over a number of assets in the Black Shore group after the holding firm failed in a bid for examinership last February. The Bank is owed some €50 million by various companies of Mr Sweeney.

The application for approval of the survival proposals opened yesterday before Mr Justice Brian McGovern but, as it was due to resume today, he was told there had been developments overnight following discussions between the sides.

In those circumstances, the judge agreed to adjourn the proceedings to today (Thursday ) to allow the examiner present modified proposals.

Seeking the adjournment, James Doherty, for the examiner, said his client wanted to prepare modified proposals in an effort to allay Anglo's concerns.

Lyndon MacCann SC, for Anglo, said it was hoped the modifications would address the bank's complaints relating to its interests being prejudiced by the existing survival scheme and concerning how an investment of €1.7 million was to be made in the companies via an interest free loan from a company involving Mr Sweeney's 21-year-old son.

It was also hoped issues concerning the lease for the Moycullen property would be resolved.

Mr Justice McGovern said he was happy to adjourn the matter if there was a prospect of agreement on most, if not all, the points of concern.


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