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Rescue scheme for Joe.ie needs minister's sign-off

€10.5m investment is found for troubled digital media company

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Rescue: Liam Harrington of Iconic Labs (L) and Greencastle Capital’s Paul O’Donohoe announced plans for Joe.ie and Her.ie

Rescue: Liam Harrington of Iconic Labs (L) and Greencastle Capital’s Paul O’Donohoe announced plans for Joe.ie and Her.ie

Rescue: Liam Harrington of Iconic Labs (L) and Greencastle Capital’s Paul O’Donohoe announced plans for Joe.ie and Her.ie

An investor has been found for the digital media company behind Joe.ie, the High Court has heard.

The rescue plan will require formal approval from the Minister for Communications and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) before it is signed off by the court.

Mr Justice Michael Quinn was yesterday told Greencastle Acquisition, a newly incorporated Irish company whose sole shareholder is Linton Capital, is to make a combined investment in Maximum Media Network, which is behind Joe.ie, and its UK subsidiary totalling €10.5m.

The deal includes a €300,000 investment in a shares subscription in Maximum Media Network, the assumption of the company's secured liability through a loan agreement with the secured creditor, and the availability of up to €2m in working capital facilities.

The UK subsidiary is subject to a separate insolvency procedure in England and Wales.

Ross Gorman BL, for the court-appointed examiner, said ministerial approval will be required because it involves a media company.

Mr Justice Quinn adjourned the matter to September to allow the CCPC and minister to sign off on the proposal.

Mr Justice Quinn had appointed Shane McCarthy of KPMG as interim examiner to Maximum Media Network which was incorporated as Joe Dotie Ltd but became MMN in February 2013.

It employs 48 people and ran into significant solvency and financial issues which led to BPC Lending Ireland - owed more than €6m - seeking the appointment of an examiner.

The court heard the €6m debt to BPC Lending represents some two-thirds of the firm's entire debt.

Revenue, which is owed €460,000, and the landlord, BCP Fund Management (not connected with BPC Lending) which says it is owed €187,000 in rent arrears, did not oppose the examinership as long as current liabilities to them are paid during the term of the examinership.

The court heard one of the factors in the downturn in the fortunes of MMN, which had only become loss-making in 2018 and enjoyed some 42 million hits a year on its platforms, was a controversy last year when it was revealed a company employee used a "click farm" to artificially inflate engagement numbers. Click farms involve a large group of low-paid workers being hired to click on paid advertising links.

The case will be back before the court on September 7.

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