Wednesday 26 June 2019

Musician McNamara and ex-TV star wife seeking €3m debt write-down

Frank McNamara and Theresa Lowe believe they will be able to create enough income to work out their debts. Photo: David Conachy
Frank McNamara and Theresa Lowe believe they will be able to create enough income to work out their debts. Photo: David Conachy

Tim Healy

Musician Frank McNamara and his wife, former TV presenter Theresa Lowe, are seeking a debt write-down of nearly €3m after getting into financial difficulty.

The High Court has been asked to approve a personal insolvency arrangement to help them in dealing with debts of €3.7m.

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They are looking to get a debt write-down of nearly €3m, but a fund, Tanager DAC, which acquired the debt, is opposing the application.

Mr McNamara (59) was musical director on 'The Late Late Show' for 20 years, while Ms Lowe (56), best-known as the presenter of RTÉ quiz show 'Where In The World?', is a barrister.

The couple, who were not in court, say that because they are self-employed, they will be able to continue working beyond the age of 70.

The court heard they re-mortgaged and sold properties in an attempt to escape what they saw as temporary financial difficulties.

However, Mr McNamara, who says he has been working in the US, earning a high income, believed he would be able to create enough income to work out their debts. He says he is owed $1.2m (€1.07m) in US royalties for his work.

Their main asset is their home in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, which they say is worth around €500,000 and on which they owe almost €2.3m.

Under the arrangement being proposed, they would continue to pay a mortgage of €550,000 on their home from a total income of €5,600 per month. They have two dependent children.

A lump sum payment of €100,000 would also be made, along with a promise of €30,000 from a life insurance policy when it matures in seven years.

The money will come from a €181,000 inheritance from Mr McNamara's parents' estate, and also from the sale of five acres next to their home.

Keith Farry BL, for the couple, said under the personal arrangement, creditors would fare better than in a bankruptcy.

He said Tanager seems to want bankruptcy and was not interested in long-term structuring of debts. He said Tanager's strategy is to realise the debt in as short a period of time as possible and the fund did not "do forbearance".

They had continued to make payments off their debt and would continue to do so under the arrangement, he said.

Rudi Neuman Shanahan BL, for Tanager, said there was a lack of explanation in relation to questions raised by his client about the couple's debts.

The unpaid US royalties claim dates back 16 years and was not relevant to the conduct of the debtor in the two years immediately prior to the personal arrangement, he said.

He also said less than 1pc of creditors voted in favour of the personal insolvency arrangement.

The couple would be 75 and 78 by the time this arrangement comes to an end and, despite saying they could work beyond normal retirement age, that would be sufficient reason for objecting to it, he said.

The case was adjourned for a week.

Irish Independent

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