Thursday 15 November 2018

Liquidator seeks sale of 'Buy and Sell' to Demirca

Neil Hughes
Neil Hughes

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

The provisional liquidator appointed to the company that publishes the troubled 'Buy and Sell' magazine has asked the High Court for permission to sell it to Demirca Ltd, a subsidiary of media group Communicorp.

Lawyers for Neil Hughes, who was appointed provisional liquidator earlier this month, asked the court to approve the sale for €311,000 to Denis O'Brien-owned Communicorp.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr adjourned the application until tomorrow to allow a rival bidder, Midland Web Printing Ltd, which prints the magazine, to consider more fully its opposition to the court approving the sale to Demirca.

Midland Web claimed it already had an agreement in place to acquire 'Buy and Sell' and told the court it wants to complete that agreement.

Midland also claimed in an affidavit that the proposed sale of the all-advertising magazine requires approval from both the Irish Competition Authority and the Commission for Communication Regulation (ComReg.)

This, the company claimed, was because Communicorp, which owned Demirca, had interests in digital media and radio stations and Mr O'Brien's shareholding in Independent News and Media.

Declan Murphy, counsel for Mr Hughes, told the court the provisional liquidator did not believe that the proposed sale required such approval. It was Mr Hughes's case that Midland had not complied with the terms of an agreement of sale for the business and he was entitled to sell it to Demirca.

Creditors

Mr Hughes was appointed provisional liquidator of 'Buy and Sell' owners Buzreel Limited, which is based at Bridgecourt Office Park, Walkinstown Avenue, Dublin 12.

Midland Web is owed more than €90,000 by Buzreel, making it one of the firm's largest creditors, and had earlier applied to the court to have the company wound up.

Mr Hughes has been trying to sell the magazine and received several bids by interested parties. Following that tendering process, he yesterday asked the court to approve a sale to Demirca.

Barrister Andrew Whelan, counsel for Midland, opposed the application. He told the judge that the provisional liquidator was attempting "to steamroll" the court into approving the sale to Demirca.

Mr Whelan said Midland had issues about the bidding process. Midland had understood it was a sealed bidding process and that it had been successful after tendering the highest bid of about €303,000.

However, the court heard that a proposed sale agreement with Midland had not been concluded after Midland had sought "certain clarifications". Midland had subsequently learned that a lower bid of under €300,000 by Demirca Ltd had been accepted by Mr Hughes.

Mr Whelan said that Demirca, on discovering how much Midland had bid, had upped its offer to €311,000.

Mr Murphy, opposing an adjournment, said 'Buy and Sell' was a wasting asset and the sale should go ahead as soon as possible.

Irish Independent

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