Business Irish

Sunday 19 November 2017

IL&P investors reject Noonan's bailout

But chairman warns against raising hopes of a better deal

Government to obtain a court order that can force banks to accept capital, even if their shareholders don't want it.

The minister's team is actively preparing an application under the Act and could approach the courts as soon as today, the Irish Independent understands.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance declined to comment.

"We know the minister will go to court now," said Piotr Skoczylas, the Scotchstone Capital boss who is leading the shareholder charge against the recapitalisation and was yesterday voted on to the board of IL&P.

He said: "We're focusing our attentions on our legal challenge."

Mr Skoczylas said his team had signed up an Irish law firm to fight the action on a "no-win, no-fee" basis, but said he could not yet reveal the name of the company.

About 160 shareholders were part of the Scotchstone grouping before yesterday's meeting. Mr Skoczylas said he picked up another 150 after a post-EGM appeal to shareholders to come on board.

"We're very pleased with the level of support," he added.

The Scotchstone grouping had put four motions on the agenda for yesterday's EGM, including forcing the IL&P board to hire new advisers to explore other recapitalisation options and appealing to the authorities for the recapitalisation deadline to be extended out past July 31.

All four 'shareholder motions' were passed by a majority of between 60 and 67pc.

The impact of those resolutions is unclear. Mr Cook yesterday said there wasn't time to appoint new advisers before the July 31 deadline, while the authorities appear to hold that deadline as sacrosanct.

A shareholders' motions to elect Mr Skoczylas to IL&P's board may not come into effect until after the recapitalisation deadline on July 31, because of the time it takes to get new directors through the Central Bank's fitness and probity process.

The activist grouping was also instrumental in the rejection of the three motions put forward by the company, proposing the sale of Irish Life Assurance, the acceptance of state cash and the removal of IL&P from the main stock exchange listing.

"It was a protest vote and they (shareholders) are entitled to make that protest vote," Mr Cook said, adding that the outcome was "not a surprise".

At the meeting, Mr Cook promised to make fresh representations to Finance Minister Michael Noonan on behalf of shareholders, and to impress on him the "strength of feeling" expressed yesterday.

But he cautioned against "raising hopes", leading to charges from shareholders that he had already given up the battle.

"I didn't want to make them (shareholders) feel that just by going back and raising the points, everything is going to change overnight," Mr Cook told journalists after the meeting.

He declined to express a view on whether the Government was "for turning" but pointed out that the authorities had shown a "strong degree of determination" to push ahead with the recapitalisation as outlined in the stress tests.

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