Tuesday 17 October 2017

Farmers, marts take hit as cattle exporter folds

Darragh McCullough and Declan O'Brien

FARMERS and cattle marts are facing a multi-million euro loss with the news that the country's largest live cattle exporter went into receivership yesterday.

TLT International traded over €31m of livestock a year and employed 30 from its base near Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Run for the past 20 years by the Italian-born Garavelli brothers, Paolo and Davide, from their farm at Knockdrin in Co Westmeath, the business exported up to 30,000 cattle and 60,000 sheep annually, along with some pigs.

Gearoid Costelloe, of Limerick's Grant Thornton office, has been appointed receiver to the business following a decision by TLT's London-based bankers, HSBC.

"My priority is to preserve as much of the assets as we can and resolve outstanding debts with suppliers as quickly as possible," said Mr Costelloe.

He declined to state exactly how much was owed to the creditors, except to say that it ran into "many millions".

The receiver did not rule out the possibility of a farmer co-operative buying out the operation.

"Obviously the farming community have an interest in this and I can see the merit in them buying this," he said.

LOSSES

Marts along the western seaboard are believed to be worst affected, with some facing losses of over €50,000.

Paolo Garavelli claimed that all purchased stock had either been delivered to clients or returned to their previous owners.

It is believed that the brothers gave personal guarantees on the loans that included their farm and family homes.

"All we'll have at the end of this is a pay as you go phone and as many farmers as possible paid," said Mr Garavelli.

"We're not looking for excuses. This is our fault," he added.

Delays getting paid in the wake of the horsemeat crisis last spring, combined with rising Irish cattle prices have been blamed for the decision by HSBC to end the supply of credit to the business.

Farmers see live cattle exports as a vital source of competition for the 1.6 million head that are sold off Irish farms annually.

The receivers are planning to contact all the creditors on Monday.

TLT accounts show that the company returned a profit of €180,525 in 2012.

The two Garavelli brothers, who are listed as the directors of the company, received directors' remuneration and pension contributions of €109,553.

However, bank overdraft doubled from 2011 to 2012, to €4,577,165.

Irish Independent

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