Tuesday 17 July 2018

New twist in battle for Blackrock Clinic as key investor gets US backer

The Blackrock Clinic
The Blackrock Clinic
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

The battle for control of the prized Blackrock Clinic in Dublin has taken a new twist after the businessman at the centre of the row secured new backing to pay off a loan.

Joseph Sheehan, who is in a dispute with fellow shareolder Larry Goodman over the clinic, is understood to have agreed a deal for financing with US private equity company HIG Capital.

Under the deal, HIG is expected to lend Mr Sheehan a figure close to €50m.

The Irish Independent understands that over two-thirds of those funds are earmarked to repay a loan that was originally advanced by Anglo Irish Bank but is now owned by a company which is controlled by Mr Goodman.

The deal would seem to end Mr Goodman’s dispute with Mr Sheehan, and leave Mr Sheehan holding onto his 28pc stake in the company that controls the Blackrock and Galway clinics.

Mr Goodman’s Breccia bought its, also 28pc, stake in Blackrock Hospital Limited, the parent company of the clinic, back in 2006.

The situation became more complicated when he later bought Mr Sheehan’s loans from IBRC. Mr Sheehan is a co-founder of Blackrock Clinic, but now lives mainly in the United States.

Mr Goodman’s Breccia attempted to appoint a receiver over Mr Sheehan’s shares in December of last year.

However Mr Sheehan secured an injunction which prevented a receiver being appointed.

Last month, lawyers for Mr Sheehan told the High Court that Breccia is exaggerating the cost of repaying his loan. Breccia, however, denies this is the case.

It is understood that Mr Sheehan has not yet repaid the Breccia loan, but once he does, it will effectively end the disagreement between Mr Sheehan and Mr Goodman’s company.

Breccia is also involved in a court battle with another shareholder, John Flynn.

Mr Flynn claims that Mr Goodman’s company is charging an estimated €13m to redeem debts of €8.7m. The €13m is said to include €2m in legal fees. Lawyers for Breccia are contesting the claim.

Mr Sheehan founded Blackrock Clinic with his fellow surgeons, Jimmy Sheehan, Maurice Neligan and specialist George Duffy, in 1984.

It quickly established itself as one of the top private hospitals in the country, and has become a “go to” hospital for patients seeking private treatment across the country.

In particular the clinic has developed a reputation for high-tech surgical procedures, medical treatments and ground-breaking diagnostics.

Among its staff are some of the top specialists in their fields in the country.

A spokesman for Mr Goodman declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Blackrock Clinic and HIG Capital.

The deal is being managed by a HIG team in London.

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