Business Irish

Friday 15 December 2017

Petroceltic must wait till Friday for Examinership confirmation

Petroceltic operations in Algeria
Petroceltic operations in Algeria

Tim Healy and Peter Flanagan

The investment fund at the centre of controversy surrounding oil and gas explorer Petroceltic has sold more than half its debt in the Irish firm.

Sunny Hill, which owned 69pc of Petroceltic's debt, last night said it had sold 32pc of the company's debt to an "independent third party investor".

Sunny Hill is controlled by the hedge fund Worldview. The surprise move is believed to have come as part of a technical issue around voting rights for major shareholders.

A Petroceltic spokesman declined to comment. The move came as the High Court said it will hear later this week an application over whether it should confirm Examinership for troubled exploration company Petroceltic and two related companies.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern last month appointed Michael McAteer, of Grant Thornton, as interim examiner on the application of the company itself and of a minority shareholder, Worldview. The move followed discussions between Petroceltic and Worldview after the latter decided to bring, without notice to Petroceltic, a petition for court protection and Examinership. Worldview EHS International Master Fund, with registered offices in the Cayman Islands, sought protection for Petroceltic International plc and related companies, Petroceltic Investments Ltd and Petroceltic Ain Tsila.

Petroceltic employs 13 staff at its headquarters at Grand Canal Street Upper, Dublin, and 128 others in offices in several countries. The petition was due to be heard yesterday but was adjourned on consent to allow the sides address matters in sworn documents. James Doherty BL, for the syndicate of banks providing funding to Petroceltic, said his clients had concerns about a number of issues.

Mr Doherty previously said the syndicate was owed some $230m and, while not opposing Examinership, was reserving its position while it considered information on the financial position of the companies.

Mr Justice McGovern fixed Friday to hear the petition and continued court protection for the companies in the interim.

Based on an independent expert's report, the court heard it is believed the companies have a viable future as a going concern subject to certain conditions including approval of a scheme of arrangement.

Irish Independent

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