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Bank chases Apprentice's Bill for €8m

APPRENTICE boss Bill Cullen is being pursed by a Danish bank for more than €8.2m.

Danske Bank claims the businessman, who recently lost control of his final two car dealerships, owes the money for unpaid loans.

Yesterday it applied to Mr Justice Peter Kelly at the Commercial Court for leave to serve notice of the proceedings on Mr Cullen at his home at Osberstown House, Sallins, Co Kildare, after saying it had experienced difficulties serving the legal documents on him personally. Cullen is already reeling after receivers were appointed to his Glencullen Holdings earlier this month.

The company had operated car dealerships in Swords and Liffey Valley, but the appointment of receivers ended Penny Apples author Bill's 55 years in the motor trade.

Yesterday Rossa Fanning, for the Danske Bank, said about four efforts to effect personal service over loans worth in excess of €8.2m had proven unsuccessful and he was seeking an order to allow service by ordinary post at his home.

Mr Justice Kelly granted counsel an order allowing for substituted service.

Earlier this month, 45 employees at Mr Cullen's Glencullen Holdings were told Ulster Bank, which is owed an estimated €12m, had appointed receivers to the company to secure its loans.

Devastated

Mr Cullen, who is owed €19.5m, is the biggest creditor of Glencullen. The company's latest accounts showed Mr Cullen also provided a letter of guarantee of €1.2m as security for the loans, plus assignment of a life assurance policy.

A decline in car sales this year, and other factors, led to Mr Cullen losing control of the business. In August, Mr Cullen lost the Renault dealership, having held the national franchise for the carmaker from 1986 to 2007.

At the time close sources said the businessman and his partner Jackie Lavin were "very sad" about the developments.

"He had fought tooth and nail to save the business," a source told the Herald. Mr Cullen continues to retain control of the Muckross Park Hotel Cloisters Spa in Killarney, which he co-owns with Ms Lavin.

The businessman started out selling apples from a cart on Dublin's Moore Street.

He went on to buy Renault's Irish distribution rights in 1986 for just £1 and developed it into a multi-million empire.

After years of success he headed up TV3's Apprentice programme but all of those he hired have now all gone on to further their careers elsewhere.

One former Apprentice Winner Steve Rayner told the Herald that he was "devastated" by his former boss's troubles.

"Bill is the nicest guy I have ever worked for," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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