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Developer's stake key to Continental

AFTER almost a year in hibernation it seems as if the battle for control of Irish Continental is finally approaching a conclusion. However, regardless of who ends up controlling the ferry company, the 40 per cent fall in the share price over the past year means that everyone involved is likely to end up a loser.

The opening salvo was fired in March 2007 when a consortium headed up by Eamon Rothwell bid €471m. An extraordinary corporate donnybrook followed with Philip Lynch's Moonduster consortium and developer Liam Carroll joining in.

With the Rothwell-led group controlling 16 per cent, Moonduster 25 per cent, Carroll 29.8 per cent, the result was deadlock. Finally the Takeover Panel intervened and imposed a 12-month moratorium, which expires at the end of the month, on the bid.

The preliminary skirmishing has already begun with Moonduster voting against the management at this week's EGM.

With the property crash having bitten a large chunk out of his net worth Carroll must be a potential seller. Whoever succeeds in securing Carroll's stake will almost certainly win the battle for Irish Continental.

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