Monday 23 October 2017

Printer of Examiner titles, Webprint, suing over 'broken contracts'

Tim Healy

A PRINTING company is suing over the loss of a multi-year agreement to publish several newspapers following what it alleges was a "wilful" and "pre-packaged" restructuring of the Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) media group.

Webprint Concepts Ltd claimed yesterday that one of the "principal objectives" of the restructuring of the TCH group was to enable TCH and TCP (Thomas Crosbie Printers Ltd) evade their existing contractual obligations.

In an affidavit to the Commercial Court, Webprint managing director Donagh O'Doherty said the net value of the 15-year printing agreement to Webprint was some €22.2m or around 70pc of its income.

Out of 46 staff at its Mahon Point, Cork, premises, 41 were on a two-day week with some facing possible redundancy as a result of this "wilful scheme" to interfere with its contractual relations, he added.

Following the restructuring, the 'Irish Times' is now publishing the titles; there are unpaid debts of some suppliers of newsprint and, reportedly, there are pension obligations of TCH as he had been told of a €22m deficit, he said.

TCH was placed into receivership this month by its largest lender, AIB, and Kieran Wallace of KPMG was appointed receiver. On the same day, TCH was acquired by Landmark Media Investments, owned by Thomas and Ted Crosbie. As part of the restructuring, an examiner was appointed to Post Publications Ltd, publishers of the Sunday Business Post.

Ulster Bank has also appointed a receiver over Webprint's Mahon Point premises, on which a loan to TCP to build the premises was secured.

Judge Peter Kelly said the claim appeared to be there was "an actionable conspiracy" involving interference with contractual arrangements.

He agreed to fast-track the action in the Commercial Court and fixed a provisional trial date for October 8.

Irish Independent

Also in Business