Business Irish

Saturday 29 April 2017

Publican Frank Gleeson secures temporary injunction preventing Mercantile from dismissing him

The Mercantile Group, which included the Mercantile bar on Dame Street, the Green Hen in Exchequer Street and Whelans of Wexford Street, merged with the Capital Bars in 2015
The Mercantile Group, which included the Mercantile bar on Dame Street, the Green Hen in Exchequer Street and Whelans of Wexford Street, merged with the Capital Bars in 2015

Aodhan O'Faolain

Publican Frank Gleeson has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing the company he is CEO of from taking steps to dismiss.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was satisfied to grant Mr Gleeson an interim injunction on Thursday preventing Mercantile Entertainment Group Ltd from dismissing him.

The order also prevents the taking any steps to discipline Mr Gleeson in reliance on findings made in a report commissioned by the company.

The application was made to Mr Justice Paul Gilligan on an ex-parte (one side only represented) basis and was adjourned to March 26.

The Mercantile Group, which included the Mercantile bar on Dame Street, the Green Hen in Exchequer Street and Whelans of Wexford Street, merged with the Capital Bars in 2015.  Capital included Cafe en Seine in Dawson Street and the George in George's Street.

Under the merger, Mr Gleeson, of Deerpark Drive, Castleknock, Dublin,  has a 30 per cent shareholding in a company called Ardan Advisory, of which the Mercantile Entertainment Group is a wholly owned subsidiary. 

The remaining 70pc is owned by JT Magen (Capital Bars) LLC and Danu Advisory Partners Ltd.

Rossa Fanning SC, for Mr Gleeson, said the orders were sought because the company plans to meet next week to consider an investigation report, commissioned by the group, into certain allegations of wrongdoing against Mr Gleeson.  Thos allegations are denied.

Counsel said the report is irredeemably tainted, prejudicial, and breaches Mr Gleeson's rights to fair procedures.

The investigator, who completed the report at the end of March, had also disregarded his own terms of reference, he said.  The report was therefore fundamentally and fatally flawed.

No witnesses were interviewed nor was an oral hearing conducted, he said. The report's findings seem to be based on what Mercantile provided to the investigator, counsel said.

His client had been on "gardening leave" since December.

A number of matters were then put to Mr Gleeson, which he responded to, counsel said. He was informed that an investigation was to take place.

Mr. Gleeson fears his reputation will be irredeemably damage there will be devastating consequences financially.

Counsel said that as part of the shareholders' agreement, Mr Gleeson would be dismissed as CEO and his shareholding in Ardan would be reduced to 25pc in the event he was found to have engaged in any misconduct.

Mr Gleeson sought undertakings he would not be dismissed from Mercantile in advance of next Thursday's board meeting but they were not forthcoming, counsel added. 

Mr Gleeson has separately brought proceedings in the Commercial Court claiming the affairs of the company are being conducted in a manner oppressive to him as a minority shareholder.

Mr Gleeson is also facing a claim, also pending before the Commercial Court, by EMI-MR Investments LLC, of Delaware, USA, for judgment of €4.6m arising out of two unpaid loans he received in 2016. 

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