Tuesday 20 November 2018

Panda Waste legal wrangle escalates

Panda is battling London-listed Craven House Capital, which claims it signed binding heads of agreement to buy Panda a couple of years ago. Photo: Laura Larkin
Panda is battling London-listed Craven House Capital, which claims it signed binding heads of agreement to buy Panda a couple of years ago. Photo: Laura Larkin

Gavin McLoughlin - Business Correspondent

A legal battle over the ownership of waste company Panda has escalated significantly after Panda launched an attack on a rival businessman's character.

Panda is battling London-listed Craven House Capital, which claims it signed binding heads of agreement to buy Panda a couple of years ago.

The waste business claims the arrangement was not binding.

On Friday Panda introduced a witness statement to the High Court, which contains details on a previous judgment for fraud against businessman, Mike Battles.

Martin Hayden SC, counsel for Sretaw (the company behind Panda), told the court that Battles, a senior figure at Craven House during the relevant period, had a final judgment for fraud against him in the USA. The judgment related to levying excessive charges for work done in Iraq.

Gary McCarthy SC, counsel for Craven House, consented to the witness statement being admitted but expressed concern that it would lead to the matter taking longer than had been anticipated.

The issue is scheduled to appear again in court on June 5.

Panda is owned by Eamon Waters, who has grown the company into Ireland's largest waste business.

In 2016 it bought rival Greenstar from investment fund Cerberus. The disputed Craven House arrangement, for which the heads of agreement were put in place in early 2015, valued Panda at just under €80m. Waters is also active in the hotel and pub sectors.

Craven House is chaired by former Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows, who is also the chair of British American Tobacco.

Burrows is a former chief executive of Irish Distillers and was Governor of Bank of Ireland when the financial crash happened in 2008.

The investment company's day-to-day operations are managed by Hong Kong-based Desmond Capital.

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