Business Irish

Monday 21 January 2019

Ion's O'Leary is backer of Sammon subsidiary which entered examinership

Businessman Neil O'Leary
Businessman Neil O'Leary
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Businessman Neil O'Leary is a key investor in Sammon Contracting Ireland, the main operating company of Sammon Contracting Group which entered into examinership last week.

O'Leary, who has a non executive role in the company, became an investor in the business in 2014. A co-founder of Ion Equity, he is understood to hold up to one third of the shares in Sammon Contracting Ireland.

Last Thursday, the High Court has appointed a interim examiner to the contractor which got into financial difficulties due to the "devastating collapse" of the one of the UK's largest construction firms Carillion.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton appointed Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton Ireland to the Co Kildare based Sammon Contracting Group and related companies Sammon Contracting Ireland Ltd and Miceál Sammon Woodcraft Ltd. O'Leary is not involved in Miceal Sammon Woodcraft.

The Judge said while the firms were insolvent he was satisfied to appoint McAteer on the basis that an independent expert's report had stated the companies have a reasonable prospect of surviving if certain steps are taken.

These steps include the examiner putting together a scheme of arrangement with the group's creditors.

If that scheme is approved by the High Court it will allow the group continue to trade as a going concern.

At he time of his investment in 2014, O'Leary spoke about Sammon's links with Carillion.

"Carillion is interested in deploying €1bn in Ireland and Sammon is its contractor partner," O'Leary said. "It's not often you find a traditional business with the ability to double in size every year for the next three or four years."

It was reported that he has invested €6m in the company.

In the High Court counsel for Sammon said it was confident that if an examiner is appointed, and a scheme approved, the group will be in a position to complete its contracts on time and return to profitability.

The group has also had discussions with PJ and Mary McGrath of the McGrath Group, which has indicated it will provide support and funding to the Sammon firms during the period of protection.

O'Leary's Ion Equity formed fuel retailer Topaz by merging Shell and Statoil in Ireland. However, he lost control of the business in 2013 to Denis O'Brien, a major shareholder in Independent News & Media which publishes this newspaper.

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