Wednesday 17 January 2018

Glen Dimplex boss files case against Anglo over hotel loan


SEAN O'Driscoll, Glen Dimplex boss, has filed court proceedings against the former Anglo Irish Bank, now the IBRC. The case relates to a €700m investment in a British hotel chain in which a rollcall of Irish business figures are shareholders.

Besides Glen Dimplex chief executive O'Driscoll, investors include Galway developer brothers Brian and Luke Comer; boxing impresario Barney Eastwood; Harcourt's Pat Doherty; Glen Dimplex financial officer Michael Maher; Ballymore's Sean Mulryan and his developer brother Donal; IBRC banker Gordon Parker; and former Anglo banker John Rowan.

Former Anglo boss Sean FitzPatrick had a €4.2m stake.

In 2007, Anglo funded the buyout of the Somerston Hotel Group, which owns 32 Holiday Inn Express brand hotels across Britain. The bank brought dozens of wealthy individuals on board as equity investors, to the tune of €100m.

At the time, Anglo was increasing its focus on investors with upwards of €3m to put into property and other areas.

The value of the Somerston group is reported to have fallen considerably since then, and a debt restructuring is being worked out with the IBRC. This process threatens to significantly affect shareholders' investments. Though the group is in negative equity, cash operating profits of €34m for 2012 were expected.

In the case registered with with British High Court, fellow plaintiffs along with O'Driscoll are John Moulton of Better Capital, the British private equity firm that has been chosen by the National Pension Reserve fund to help refinance Irish SMEs, and millionaire Manchester developer Perviaz Naviede. Mr Moulton said it was too early in the legal process to comment.

Several prominent UK businessmen are also investors, including Elite mobile firm boss Ajay Gokani and CBRE hotels boss Derek Gammage.

It is believed that part of the case pertains to a private investment in Somerston connected with O'Driscoll's personal pension scheme.

The case, Sean O'Driscoll & Anr v Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd & Ors, was registered on Tuesday, January 15. O'Driscoll was travelling and unavailable for comment on Friday.

Somerston Hotels director Shaun Robinson said he was unaware of the court filing while managing director Keith Griffiths declined to comment.

IBRC's spokeswoman said that as the matter was the subject of litigation, it would be inappropriate for the bank to comment.

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