Friday 23 February 2018

Eight potential buyers for 'Business Post' as court confirms McAteer as examiner

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Eight potential buyers have indicated their interest in bidding for the 'Sunday Business Post', the High Court has been told.

The court confirmed the appointment of Michael McAteer, of Grant Thornton, as examiner to Post Publications, the owner of the newspaper, at a hearing yesterday. That move was expected because he has been acting as interim examiner over the past week.

Since then, eight different investors emailed to say they could be interested in tabling an offer for the company. That group is understood to be a mix of Irish individuals and syndicates and a number of international private equity firms.

Confidentiality agreements have been issued to all eight, and must be signed before talks progress any further, the court was told.

However, sources close to the situation said the strength of any interest would not be clear until bidders were forced to start spending money on financial and legal due diligence to progress with their offers.

Objections

In court yesterday, there were no objections to the appointment of the examiner, but lawyers for Webprint, a printing business, were present and will monitor the case.

Webprint was left out of pocket when Thomas Crosbie Holdings, which owned the 'Sunday Business Post', went into receivership last week.

Much of the group, including the 'Irish Examiner' newspaper, was immediately sold on to members of the Crosbie family that already owned the group, but the printing contract was effectively cancelled as a result of the multi-strand deal.

Lawyers for Webprint said the company was planning to go to court to challenge that sale process, but it made no move to block the 'Sunday Business Post' examinership.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he was satisfied the newspaper has a reasonable prospect of survival. "The 'Sunday Business Post' has been assailed by the gales of the economic storm that has buffeted our shores."

The company was insolvent, but had been well managed, he added. He could think of no reason not to exercise his discretion to appoint an examiner, who can potentially rescue the business. The case is due back in court on April 9, when the judge and creditors will be updated on any prospects of a sale.

Irish Independent

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