Saturday 25 November 2017

High Court judge tells two rivals to submit fresh sealed bids for Buy and Sell magazine

The High Court Dublin
The High Court Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

A High Court judge has directed two rivals for the purchase of troubled Buy and Sell magazine to submit fresh sealed bids for the business.

Dermica Ltd, a subsidiary of the Denis O Brien-owned Communicorp, and Midland Web Printing Ltd had both bid to acquire the assets of Buzreel Ltd which publishes Buy and Sell and owns its website

When Neil Hughes, who was appointed provisional liquidator of Buzreel earlier this month, applied to the High Court for permission to sell the company to Dermica Ltd, the Birr, Co Offaly-based printer of the magazine objected.

It was owed €90,000 by Buzreel and claimed that at €303,000 it had topped the €267,000 bid of Dermica by €30,000 in a sealed tender bidding process.

The court heard that when Midland had been unable to put up the cash within 24 hours, Mr Hughes had turned to the next bidder, Dermica, who had then increased its bid to €311,000 and posted all of the money in cash.

In a ruling today  Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said the fairest thing to do was for the two bidders to submit fresh offers for the business, if they so wished.

He said very difficult issues had been raised in the proceedings and given the competing interests involved he felt both parties should re-bid.

Setting the terms of the new bidding process the judge said the offers had to be unconditional and had to be lodged with the provisional liquidator before 5pm on Monday next.

Mr Hughes has been trying to sell the magazine which has not been published since early April and received several bids by interested parties.

Midland Web Printing claimed it already had an agreement in place to acquire Buy and Sell and wanted to complete that agreement.

Declan Murphy, counsel for Mr Hughes, said a proposed sale agreement to Midland had not been concluded after Midland had sought “certain clarifications.” Midland had subsequently learned that a bid by Demirca Ltd had been accepted by Mr Hughes.

Barrister Andrew Whelan, counsel for Midland, today told the court that Midland had topped Demirca’s offer by €1,000 to €312,000 and was prepared to have the cash in court by Monday.

Mr Murphy said €311,000 cash was already on the table from Demirca and the provisional liquidator still felt it was in the best interests of Buzreel's creditors that the company be sold immediately without risk to creditors or “egg on the face” of Mr Hughes if a new deal did not go through.

He said Buy and Sell had not been published for some weeks and Buzreel's main assets, the magazine and its goodwill, were depreciating in value. The publication needed to be published again as soon as possible.

It was Mr Hughes’s case that Midland had not complied within 24 hours with the terms of an agreement of sale for the business and he was now entitled to sell it to Demirca. .

Buzreel Limited is based at Bridgecourt Office Park, Walkinstown Avenue, Dublin 12 and it was Midland that had applied and agreed to the appointment of Mr Hughes.

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