Sunday 25 August 2019

O'Reilly lifts stake in plastics firm as he seeks bankruptcy recognition


Acquisition: Anthony O’Reilly has increased his share in plastics firm. Photo: David Conachy
Acquisition: Anthony O’Reilly has increased his share in plastics firm. Photo: David Conachy
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

FORMER billionaire Anthony O'Reilly - battling to try and have his bankruptcy in the Bahamas recognised in the United States - has acquired additional shares in an Irish plastics firm for more than €133,000, the Irish Independent has learned.

Mr O'Reilly is listed as having secured the shares as part of a €2m fundraising by the low-key firm, Xexos. He was an existing investor in the business, having first appeared on the shareholder register in 2017.

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Noel Corcoran, Mr O'Reilly's one-time tax advisor, has been an investor in Xexos since it was established in 2002. A company owned by him and his family invested €135,000 in the recent fundraising.

Mr O'Reilly's recent share allotments in Xexos were made in return for a cash payment.

The former Heinz chief executive was declared bankrupt in the Bahamas in 2015. He was resident on the island for about 20 years.

Mr O'Reilly has been attempting to have his bankruptcy there recognised in the United States. His case has been progressing through a bankruptcy court in Pittsburgh.

Succeeding in securing recognition would thwart efforts by his personal nurse from progressing a civil case against the businessman. Sabina Vidunas alleges that Mr O'Reilly failed to honour a pledge to give her as much as $40m (€35m) in shares that she has claimed would fund her retirement.

She has also claimed, in a case taken in Pittsburgh, that a house in Lyford Cay on the Bahamas was purchased for her and her husband in 2005 as a gift by Mr O'Reilly.

Ms Vidunas claimed that Mr O'Reilly and his wife Chryss Goulandris chose the $1.4m property so that Ms Vidunas could be close to Mr O'Reilly's residence at the time.

But Mr O'Reilly has claimed that he only loaned the money to Ms Vidunas to buy the property.

She has claimed that she even approached the now late Dan Rooney - a Pittsburgh business man and former US ambassador to Ireland - hoping he could broker a settlement between her and Mr O'Reilly.

"In an attempt to avoid any further dispute, potential embarrassment or grief to Anthony O'Reilly or the Goulandris family, I personally confided in and sought the intervention of Daniel Rooney, who was a friend to both myself and Anthony O'Reilly," Ms Vidunas has claimed.

The judge hearing Mr O'Reilly's bankruptcy recognition application in the United States last month told the two sides to try to settle their differences. In March, he rejected the first motion to have Mr O'Reilly's bankruptcy case recognised in the United States.

Under pressure from creditors before being declared bankrupt, Mr O'Reilly, a one-time majority shareholder in Independent News & Media and its ex-CEO, had already been offloading assets.

He sold his Castlemartin estate in Co Kildare in 2015 to US media billionaire John Malone for €28m.

Last year, the commercial court here appointed receivers to take control and sell shares in Dromoland Castle that are owned by Mr O'Reilly. The 6.8pc stake in the hotel was valued at about €1.9m.

Among Mr O'Reilly's creditors is AIB, which had opposed his efforts to be declared bankrupt in the Bahamas.

Little is known of Xexos's activities. Its shareholders and directors include Mohammad Pakiza, who owns a handful of patents, and Eric Daufresne, both of whom are based in Brussels.

It has a number of significant shareholders based in Co Cork.

Irish Independent

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