Sunday 23 October 2016

Druids Glen golf course goes into examinership

Aodhan O Faolain & Ray Managh

Published 13/05/2016 | 20:22

Great Britain's Paul Lawrie plays a shot on the third hole during the Seve Trophy 2002 against Continental Europe, at Druids Glen in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Friday April 19, 2002
Great Britain's Paul Lawrie plays a shot on the third hole during the Seve Trophy 2002 against Continental Europe, at Druids Glen in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Friday April 19, 2002

One of Ireland's top golf courses has gone into examinership.

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Druids Glen Golf Club Ltd which owns and operates the Druid's Glen Golf Course sought the protection of the High Court after a Financial company, which acquired a loan a related company had acquired from Anglo Irish Bank some years ago, appointed a receiver over the 18 hole championship course.

The fund, Gulland Property Finance Ltd, says it is owed some €4.85m by the related company and appointed a receiver over the course on Thursday after its demand to be paid what it says it is due and owing was not satisfied.

As a result, Druids Glen on Friday asked the High Court  to removed the receiver and have an examiner put in their place.  Druids Glen says despite the court proceedings it will be a case of "business as usual" at the course located at Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow.

The course, which employs 36 people, has previously hosted a number of Irish Open Golf tournaments in the 1990s and in 2002 the Seve Trophy - the competition where Ireland and Britain's top professional men's golfers take on Continental Europe's top players.

On Friday evening Mr Justice Robert Haughton appointed insolvency practioner Mr John McStay of McStay Luby Accountants as interim examiner to both Druids Glen Golf Club Ltd and the related company Lakeford Ltd, an Isle of Man registered company which had acquired the loans from Anglo.

The Judge said he was satisfied to appoint Mr McStay after reading a report from an Independent expert stating the company have a reasonable prospect of survival as going concerns.

The judge also made a number of orders, including one directing the receiver to stand down. The application, which was made ex-parte, was supported by AIB which is one of the company's creditors.

The adjoining Druids Glen Five Star Hotel and a second 18 hole course, the "Druids Heath Golf Course" are not part of the examinership process and are unaffected by the aplpication.

Barrister Patrick Leonard SC for the company said his client was seeking the appointment of an interim examiner because of Gulland's appointment of a receiver.

When a receiver is appointed the company has three days to seek to have that person removed and have an examiner appointed in their place, counsel said.

The court heard Druids Glen accepts that its related company owes significant money to Gulland, who acquired the loans from IBRC. There had been talks between the party to address the situation, but proposals were rejected by Gulland.

Earlier this week Gulland made a demand for the loans to be repaid, resulting the appointment of a receiver. 

Counsel said the appointment of Mr McStay would provide much needed reassurance to the company, its employees and its stakeholders and seek to put in place a scheme of arrangement with the creditors.

His appointment will also provide a platform to address the debt due to Gulland.

The court heard Druids Glen had suffered a significant downturn during the recession. However following restructuring the course and the related resort have stabilised and grown. 

The business attracts more than 40,000 visitors to Wicklow.  The company has invested more than €3m in the resort in the last three years, the court also heard.

The judge made the matter returnable before the courts in two weeks time.

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