Friday 19 January 2018

Buy and Sell magazine liquidator asks High Court to sell title to Denis O'Brien's company

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh.

The provisional liquidator appointed to the company that publishes the troubled Buy and Sell magazine, has today asked the High Court for permission to sell it to Demirca Ltd., a subsidiary of the Denis O Brien-owned Communicorp.

Lawyers for Neil Hughes, who was appointed provisional liquidator earlier this month, asked the court to approve the sale for €311,000 in what they described as the best interests of Buy and Sell’s creditors. 

Mr Justice Anthony Barr adjourned the application until Thursday to allow a rival bidder, Midland Web Printing Ltd., which prints the magazine, to consider more fully its opposition to the court approving the sale to Demirca.

Midland Web claimed it already had an agreement in place to acquire Buy and Sell and told the court it wants to complete that agreement.

Midland also claimed in an affidavit that the proposed sale of the all-advertising magazine requires approval from both the Irish Competition Authority and the Commission for Communication Regulation (ComReg.) 

This, the company claimed, was because Communicorp, which owned Demirca, had interests in digital media and radio stations and Mr O’Brien’s shareholding in Independent News and Media.

Declan Murphy, counsel for Mr Hughes, told the court the provisional liquidator did not believe that the proposed sale required such approval. 

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

Mr Hughes was appointed provisional liquidator of Buy and Sell's owners, Buzreel Limited, which is  based at Bridgecourt Office Park, Walkinstown Avenue, Dublin 12. Until the first week in April Buzreel published Buy and Sell several times a week and operated the website

Midland Web is owed more than €90,000 by Buzreel, making it one of the firm's largest creditors, and had earlier applied to the court to have the company wound up.

Mr Hughes has been trying to sell the magazine and received several bids by interested parties. Arising out of a tendering process he today asked the court to approve a sale to Demirca Ltd.

Barrister Andrew Whelan, counsel for Midland, opposed the application. Today he told the judge that the provisional liquidator was attempting "to steamroll" the court into approving the sale to Demirca.

Mr Whelan said Midland had issues about the bidding process. Midland had understood it was a sealed bidding process and that it had been successful after tendering the highest bid of approximately €303,000.

The court heard that a proposed sale agreement to Midland had not been concluded after Midland had sought “certain clarifications.” Midland had subsequently learned that a lower bid of under €300,000 by Demirca Ltd had been accepted by Mr Hughes.

Mr Whelan said that Demirca, on discovering how much Midland had bid, had upped its offer to €311,000. 

Mr Murphy, opposing an adjournment, said Buy and Sell was a wasting asset and the sale should go ahead as soon as possible.

He said that because Buy and Sell had not been published for some weeks Buzreel's main asset was depreciating in value. The publication needed to get up and running again in order to maintain the goodwill of its customers.

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