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Bill Cullen hotel has 'reasonable prospect of survival', court told

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Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen.

Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen.

Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen.

THERE have been 16 expressions of interest in investing in a hotel run by businessman Bill Cullen and his partner Jackie Lavin,the High Court heard today.

Mr  Justice Peter Charleton was also told that the interim examiner appointed last month over the five star Muckross Park in Killarney, Co Kerry, believes the hotel has a reasonable prospect of survival as a going concern.

 

Gary McCarthy SC, for the examiner, told the court 16 credible parties have expressed an interest in the luxury hotel.

 

Counsel said the interim examiner had done a "significant amount of work" which had been positive and he concurred with the report of an independent accountant that the hotel has a reasonable prospect of survival as a going concern.

 

Last month, Mr Justice Charleton ordered that a receiver appointed by ACC Bank to the hotel be replaced by an interim examiner, Kieran McCarthy of Hughes Blake Chartered Accountants.

 

Declan Taite, of RSM Farrell Grant Sparks had been appointed receiver and manager to Muckross Park Hotel Limited, Boisdale Holdings Ltd, Silvermire Properties Ltd and certain assets of Bill Cullen just days before that.

 

Today, counsel for ACC Bank Declan Murphy said when the case comes before the court again on Friday his side will argue that the court should decline to hear the examinership application. He said the bank is opposing the application for a "variety of reasons".

 

The bank's opposition hinges on the ownership of the hotel and lands which, counsel said, is part owned by Mr Cullen and a company.

 

Appointing the interim examiner, last month Mr Justice Charleton said he was satisfied from evidence, including the report of an independent accountant,  this "fine hotel" in which heavy investment was made in 2006 but which experienced problems after the Irish economy crashed in 2008, has a reasonable prospect of survival provided certain conditions were met.

 

The court heard Mr Cullen and Ms Lavin had been told by an investor he was prepared to put €4m into the hotel.

 

The hotel - which employs 105 people and another 50 during the summer months - had hired a very experienced new manager, implemented cost-saving measures and succeeded into diversifying into a number of areas including weddings.

 

The case has been adjourned to Friday and the appointment of the interim examiner has been continued. The Revenue Commissioners and the receiver, Mr Taite will also be represented at Friday's hearing.

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