Business Irish

Friday 6 December 2019

Worried cinema employees ask judge not to wind up company

Tim Healy

EMPLOYEES of two of Dublin's best-known cinemas have appealed to a High Court judge not to wind up a company operating the venues.

The Savoy in O'Connell Street and the Screen in College Green are run by the Dublin Cinema Group (DCG), whose owners are locked in a bitter dispute.

Paul Anderson, chairman of DCG, is seeking to have the company wound up because relationships have irretrievably broken down and liquidation would be best for the company.

Paul Ward, secretary of the company, disputes this and has taken separate proceedings seeking orders including restraining Mr Anderson from participating in the management and operation of the firm.

He says a plan by Mr Anderson to separately open new cinemas in St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre will be detrimental to the Savoy and Screen.

The High Court yesterday heard that mediation efforts on Tuesday failed and the winding-up hearing went ahead before Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

The judge was also told by Declan McGrath SC, for Mr Ward, that two letters had been written on behalf of the Savoy and Screen's 38 employees urging the court not to liquidate.

The letters said the workers were worried for their futures.

Mr Anderson had failed to discharge the onus on him to show there was deadlock to justify winding up as required under companies legislation, the court heard.

Mr McGrath said an offer worth €17.5m had been made to Mr Anderson to buy out his share, but he would prefer to wind it up rather than accept. If he did so, he would still be free to compete with DCG.

Michael Cush SC, for Mr Anderson, said that in the event of liquidation DCG could be bought by either his client or Mr Ward or by a third party.

A claim by Mr Ward that the liquidation was an attempt to scupper competition when Stephen's Green opens did not withstand scrutiny because Mr Anderson had offered, as part of the liquidation, to include his interest in Stephen's Green as an asset, Mr Cush said.

He also said his side rejected the claim that the winding-up petition was an attempt to stymie Mr Ward's pending action.

The hearing continues.

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