Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 18 December 2017

Four potential buyers in the frame for TLT sale

But delays in flow of information could scupper potential deal

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Four separate companies have contacted the receiver in charge of TLT International with a view to buying the business.

But delays in the flow of information from creditors is now jeopardising the chances of the business being sold on.

Despite going into receivership nearly two weeks ago with €3m in outstanding payments owed to farmers and marts, a clear picture of the TLT business has yet to emerge.

Industry sources claimed that both the marts and the directors of the company, the Garavelli brothers, Paolo and Davide, were dragging their heels in supplying accurate information.

It is believed that marts are reluctant to offer hard facts because some of the stock sold through them to TLT have since been repossessed by the farmers who originally sold them.

The receiver appointed to the business, Grant Thornton's Gearoid Costelloe, said that he had a window of a few weeks to secure a buyer for the business. He said that he had three enquiries from Irish entities and one from abroad.

Two of the domestic enquiries came from existing live exporters, while the other Irish suitor for the business is said to be closely connected with the haulage end of the trade.

RESIGNED

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Most marts and farmers have resigned themselves to getting little, if any, of their money back after preferential creditors such as the banks, receivers Grant Thornton and the Revenue have been paid.

However, Mr Costelloe insisted that securing the millions that are owed to the company by customers in Italy and North Africa "was not a lost cause".

"It will be a battle certainly, but Grant Thornton has offices in Italy so we have people on the ground there that will be pursuing the business's debts," said Mr Costelloe.

He added that he felt confident about securing monies owed in North Africa since most of the deals there were government contracts.

But Mr Costelloe, who has in the past worked on examinerships that included Larry Goodman's ABP company in the 1990s, expressed amazement at the level of trust that creditors extended to the Garavellis.

"It is really quite extraordinary, and in my view, a fundamental flaw in the make up of the live export business," he said.

Mr Costelloe confirmed that some marts are owed in the region of €300,000, although he said that this figure could "easily increase by another €100,000" depending on the number of post-dated and returned cheques that emerge over the coming days.

ICOS estimates that 25 of its members are owed approximately €1.5m. However, there are a number of marts not affiliated to ICOS that are also known to have run up significant lines of credit with TLT.

ICOS marts chairman Michael Spellman told RTé radio over the weekend that no ICOS mart would collapse because of TLT debts.

All trucks and trailers, along with the lairage that the Garavelli brothers operated from on the family farm near Mullingar, were either leased or rented.

REDUNDANCY

"The main asset is the customer, and more than 80pc of these are located in Italy," confirmed Mr Costelloe.

All 25 staff at the company were made redundant with immediate effect last Tuesday, while some of the 17-strong fleet of TLT's trucks and trailers were still making their way back from the Continent this weekend.

Celtic Ferries, the ferry company that shipped all of TLT's trucks to the Continent insisted that they would continue to offer the transport option to the live trade, despite losing one of their biggest customers. "We'll continue to offer three sailings per week," said a spokesman.

Irish Independent