Sunday 25 September 2016

Former boss of Roscommon Herald was paid €10.3million to sell newspaper

Tim Healy

Published 23/01/2013 | 19:29

THE former CEO of the Roscommon Herald was paid €10.3million for the newspaper, the High Court has been told.

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THE FORMER CEO of the Roscommon Herald was paid €10.3million for the newspaper, the High Court has been told.

The money was paid for the sole shareholding in Roscommon Herald Ltd of Brian Nerney who is challenging his dismissal by Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd (TCH) which bought the company from him in 2004.

The figure was revealed after Ms Justice Mary Laffoy ruled that it was relevant to the challenge by TCH as to the credibility of the Mr Nerney on the allegation that he has not mitigated his losses.

Mr Nerney, whose family had owned the Roscommon Herald for 60 years before the TCH 2004 buyout, was kept on as CEO after the company changed hands.

It was the second day of the action by Mr Nerney who is claiming he suffered reputational damage after TCH informed him by letter last July that he was being made redundant from his €80,000 job and he was not to re enter the offices of the Roscommon Herald - where he had worked for 28 years - after that day.

In his action Mr Nerney (47) of Carrick Road, Boyle Co Roscommon is seeking various orders including that TCH by purporting to terminate his employment in July 2012 acted in the breach of his contract of employment. Mr Nerney is also claiming over €500,000 gross in special damages including payment of all contractual entitlements.

TCH says it exercised its statutory entitlement to terminate Mr Nerney's employment on grounds of redundancy and has denied the purported termination was in breach of the contract of employment.

It is further denied that Mr Nerney was caused reputational damage or that he was in effect given six hours to leave the offices of the Roscommon Herald after the termination of his employment in a letter on July 17, 2012.

TCH's counsel Eoin Clifford yesterday put it to Mr Nerney he was a wealthy man and he had sold shares in the Roscommon Herald Ltd for €10.3m in 2004.

Mr Nerney replied: "It was somewhere around that."

Counsel said the deal made up of €8.5million on contract and €1.8million of cash remaining in the company. Counsel said he took it that Mr Nerney had put the money to good use.

"I did yes. I am not prepared to say what investments I have. I have made money and lost money," Mr Nerney commented. Mr Nerney also agreed with counsel that he owned two properties in Boyle and Roscommon town with a combined rent roll of €68,000 a year.

Asked if he had attended TCH golf classics by helicopter in the past, Mr Nerney said he had hitched a ride.

Mr Nerney agreed that he was well known in the community and he was a past chairman of the local Boyle Chamber of Commerce. Asked if he had looked for other employment Mr Nerney said he sent letters out, but he wanted to stay in the Roscommon area as he had a young family and he did not think Dublin was a commutable distance.

Counsel put it to him that he did not need a job. Mr Nerney replied he most certainly did need a job.

"I am 47 years of age with a young family. I am an active man. I need to work . Yes, I need a job," he stated.

Mr Nerney agreed when he was CEO his salary was 18 per cent of the total payroll of the Roscommon Herald. Counsel put it to Mr Nerney that he must have thought his position was under threat.

“Not at all. I had no reason to believe my position was under threat,” Mr Nerney said.

Asked about redundancies in the wider TCH group which includes several provincial newspapers, Mr Nerney said he would not have been aware of people being made redundant but there were rumours of people being out sick , retired and starting up businesses.

"It would not have crossed my mind I was being targeted for redundancy," he said.

The case continues.

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