Business Irish

Thursday 14 December 2017

Mercantile pub chain set for break-up to end bitter shareholders' dispute

Singers Aloe Blacc and Paloma Faith outside Whelan’s in Dublin during Arthur’s Day celebrations
Singers Aloe Blacc and Paloma Faith outside Whelan’s in Dublin during Arthur’s Day celebrations
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

one of the country's biggest pub chains looks set to be broken up to end a bitter shareholder dispute, the Irish Independent understands.

The breakup is on the cards after the Commercial Court heard that legal proceedings involving shareholders in Mercantile Entertainment Group had been resolved.

Talks to hammer out the details of the resolution are under way following mediation.

They are likely to mean a parting of ways by the shareholders, including a division of assets.

The row has pitted publican Frank Gleeson, a 30pc shareholder in the merged of the Mercantile/Capital chain, against majority shareholder Danu Advisory Partners Ltd - a group that includes Leonard Ryan and Setanta Sports co-founders Mark O'Meara and Michael O'Rourke.

When they merged in 2015 Mercantile Group included some of Dublin's best known pubs and venues, including the Mercantile on Dame Street and Whelan's of Wexford Street. Capital Bars venues included Cafe en Seine in Dawson Street and the George.

The court battle saw Mr Gleeson bring proceedings alleging shareholder oppression in Ardan Advisory Ltd, the company formed out of the Mercantile/Capital group merger. The other shareholders in Ardan denied the claims. Separate proceedings were then brought against Mr Gleeson by USA-based EMI-MR Investment LLC, seeking a €4.6m judgment over loans to him in 2016. Both cases were due before the court next week.

Yesterday, Stephen Dowling Bl, for Ardan, told Mr Justice Robert Haughton that both cases had been resolved.

The matters could be adjourned to May 29 next, for mention only, to allow for the implementation of a settlement agreement, he told the court. Padraic Lyons Bl, for Mr Gleeson, said his client was consenting to that proposal. No details of the settlement arrangement were given in open court.

Irish Independent

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