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One51 paid Lynch €1.4m despite posting losses in excess of €100m

TROUBLED investment company One51 paid its former chief executive Philip Lynch more than €1m last year despite the company posting a loss of more than €100m.

The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Lynch, who was ousted as chief executive at the start of the month, received a pay packet worth €1.4m in 2010 -- the same as 2009.

In addition, Mr Lynch will receive two years' basic salary, which amounts to €1.5m, as part of the settlement following his removal from the company.

The revelations came as One51 reported a loss of €104.7m for 2010 after taking a huge hit on exceptional items of €125.3m, mostly from a writedown of its stake in National Toll Roads (NTR). One51 had valued NTR at €3.71 a share but has now written it down to an equivalent price of €1.

NTR had been trading at 90c at the end of the year but has since fallen to 55c on the grey market.

Despite that, One51 said it did not consider the grey market price an "appropriate indicator of the fair value of the company".

The valuation of the NTR investment had been a source of controversy within the company, and was a subject of heavy criticism by dissident shareholders at last year's AGM.

Pre-exceptional items, One51 had increased earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by 4pc to €47m on revenue of €375.7m.

Net debt was reduced by 10.4pc to €146.9m.

The business was driven by its waste management arm ClearCircle Environmental, where turnover was up nearly 19pc at €316.4m.

The business accounts for around 80pc of the company's profits.

Irish Pride Bakeries, which contributes most of the remaining profit to One51's bottom line, saw turnover fall 4.4pc to €59.3m as a result of "continued negative consumer sentiment" resulting in a "weak domestic retail environment, even for staple products".

Interim chief executive Alan Walsh said he was happy with the company's "operating performance" despite "difficult trading conditions".

The company has been mired in controversy since last year when a group of shareholders attempted to have Mr Lynch removed from his position, culminating in a bad tempered annual general meeting.

That AGM took place at the end of July last year but notice of this year's has yet to be circulated to shareholders; a similar situation pertains to the annual report.

The AGM is now expected to take place at the end of next month.

Shareholders have seen much of their value wiped out since 2007, when the company was trading at €5 a share. It has since fallen to €1.

A flotation had been mooted in 2012 but that now seems unlikely.

Irish Independent