Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Viewpoint: We need the facts about TLT collapse

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

It struck me during the week that there are ominous similarities between the TLT receivership and the bank bailout that the country endured five years ago.

Back then, all the principal characters were wheeled out to tell us that everything was fine and that we should just trust those in charge to do the right thing.

We now know how that panned out for the public purse.

Even though the Garavellis' business went into receivership nearly two weeks ago, we still have no confirmation of the actual amounts or entities involved.

Who does this information vacuum serve?

It is right that no mart is singled out since this could create an unjustified run on the mart involved.

But as time drags on, speculation is rife and the rumour mill is in full flight, with some equally dangerous and misleading information.

An example is the response we got when we first heard the news of TLT going into receivership. We were assured that TLT's receivership was "only a temporary thing" and that they would be back in business within two weeks.

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It seems laughable now.

If we are to believe the ICOS spokesmen, who have repeatedly assured us that none of their marts will go under because of this situation, then would a bit of transparency about the amounts involved do any harm?

Surely the thousands of mart shareholders deserve to know what the actual situation is with their own marts.

What is achieved by delaying the flow of information when it is all going to emerge during the coming months when each of the marts involved publishes their annual accounts?

In the meantime, unscrupulous marts get to peddle rumours about neighbouring marts being on the hook for hundreds of thousands of euros.

In addtion, the window for securing a buyer for the TLT business is also closing. Surely everything possible should be done to facilitate a new buyer taking over the business. That includes the volunteering of information that allows teh receiver to get on with his job.

Instead we have a drip-feed approach from every part of the chain that threatens to bury a business forever.

Is the fact that the worst affected marts know that they have completely over-stepped the mark in terms of prudent financial management clouding their judgement?

It will be interesting to see what action the Property Services Regulation Authority takes on foot of this debacle.

Its remit is to only licence marts that carry out their trading according to the regulator's rules.

These include not extending undue amounts of credit relative to the cash reserves each mart has in the bank.

Irish Independent