Liquidator appointed to flagship firm with loans of up to €55m
A ONE-third stake in the Shelbourne Hotel on Dublin's St Stephen's Green could be placed on the market after an insolvent company withdrew its bid for court protection.
The High Court yesterday appointed Jim Luby as liquidator to Black Shore Holdings Ltd, the flagship company controlled by Galway businessman John Sweeney.
A subsidiary of the company had built up the 33pc shareholding in one of the capital's most famous hotels.
State-owned Anglo Irish Bank last night appointed a receiver over Black Shore, paving the way for the bank to sell the stake.
Anglo said it was potentially owed €55m on foot of loans and guarantees on grounds including an "irretrievable" loss of confidence and trust in Mr Sweeney.
But Mr Sweeney, whose personal wealth was once estimated at €100m, hit back at Anglo's "hurtful" assertions about his management. He said he had spent his whole life building up his business -- which spans fuel distribution, filling stations, property and hotels.
"It was essentially my life," said Mr Sweeney in court documents as he revealed he had personally borrowed large sums of money in 2008 to put into his business.
He also said he had always been open and accessible to his creditors and Anglo had never said to his face it did not trust his management.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern will today decide whether to grant court protection to four other Black Shore companies, including three fuel companies -- Sweeney Oil (Retail) Ltd, Sweeney Oil (Moycullen) Ltd, and Sweeney Oil Services Ltd -- and Slyne Properties Ltd, operator of the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road, Galway, a related spa and with a number of property interests.
The Revenue Commissioners adopted a neutral position to the Black Shore liquidation.
The liquidator to Black Shore was sought yesterday by Paul Sreenan SC, for Esso Ireland, which is owed €12.4m, and the application was not opposed by Black Shore.
Michael Cush SC, for Black Shore and other companies, said Black Shore was not a trading company but it offered management services to other companies in the group. It was also the company to which key suppliers in the group were actually contracted.
The court heard yesterday that Esso would have opposed court protection for Black Shore on several grounds.
Mr Cush said the view of an independent accountant and interim examiner was that the four companies seeking protection had a reasonable prospect of survival if certain conditions were met.
Urging protection, Mr Cush added that the four companies -- excluding their substantial bank debts -- were inherently profitable and the interim examiner had received serious and real expressions of interest from six potential investors.