Sunday 17 December 2017

No opposition to Petroceltic examinership application in High Court

Brian O'Cathain, CEO Petroceltic
Brian O'Cathain, CEO Petroceltic

Tim Healy

THE High Court has confirmed examinership for troubled exploration company Petroceltic and two related companies.

There was no opposition to the application, brought by minority shareholder Worldview which earlier this week acquired further debts of Petroceltic.

Rossa Fanning BL, for Petroceltic, said the petition was presented last month in "somewhat unusual circumstances" but his client, which acted appropriately at all times, was supporting examinership.

Counsel said cricticism in the petition of the present management of the company were "without justification" for reasons including management could not be held responsible for the collapse in the price of oil.

His side had not sought to respond to that criticism as that "would serve no purpose" but the criticism was not accepted, Mr Fanning said.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern was told two secured lenders of Petroceltic, NBSA Ltd and Standard Chartered Bank, owed $230m, who previously expressed concerns about some issues arising from the petition, were not pursuing those concerns.

The lenders had sold their interest in the relevant loans to Worldview, the court heard.

Paul Gallagher SC, for Worldview, said it had in affidavits addressed the relevant concerns.

These included claims of a want of good faith in bringing the petition arising from the fact another Worldview entity, Sunny Hill, had made an offer for Petroceltic. That offer, along with any other offers, would be considered by the examiner, he said.

Gavin Simons, solicitor for Elbrus Capital (Cayman) Ltd, a fund based in the Cayman Islands to which Worldview has sold debts of Petroceltic, said it was supporting the petition.

In court documents, it was stated that, under transfer agreements, Worldview, Elbrus Capital Cayman and the minority lenders - NBSA and Standard Chartered Bank - will all be lenders of record under a common terms agreement (CTA).

Therefore, it was also stated, secured creditors of Petroceltic and other companies in the Petroceltic group in respect of sums outstanding under the agreement.

The amount of the transfer also means Elbrus Capital Cayman's economic interests under the CTA are greaster than those of the minority lenders, meaning no collective action on behalf of the lenders without consent of Elbrus Capital Cayman, it was also stated.

The court also heard there was no opposition to examinership from the Revenue Commissioners.

The judge was also told an independent expert's report expressed the view Petroceltic has a reasonable prospect of survival as a going concern provided certain conditions, including securing investor funding and approval of a scheme of arrangement, are met.

Having heard the parties, the judge said he was satisfied to confirm Michael McAteer, of Grant Thornton, as examiner.

The petition was brought by Worldview EHS International Master Fund, with registered offices in the Cayman Islands, seeking  protection for Petroceltic International plc and related companies, Petroceltic Investments Ltd and Petroceltic Ain Tsila Ltd.

Petroceltic employs 13 staff at its Dublin headquarters and 128 others in offices in several countries.

The court agreed to extend protection to May 12 as Mr McAteer wanted an extension of time to pursue and finalise an investment agreement and survival proposals.

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