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Restaurant chain Cafe Mao forced into receivership

THE DUBLIN branches of Asian restaurant chain Cafe Mao have been forced into receivership.

AIB has appointed Kenneth Fennell, of corporate restructuring specialists Kavanagh Fennell, as receiver to the company in recent days.

There are three Cafe Mao restaurants in Dublin which are still open under the same management, according to the receiver.

It's anticipated the ultimate plan is to sell off the business.

Cafe Mao began with one Chatham Street outlet almost 13 years ago and later added branches in Dundrum and Dun Laoghaire. The group also opened restaurants in Cape Town in South Africa, which is closed, and in Glasgow, Scotland, which is for sale.

Mao opened in Dublin in the late 1990s and the chain's founder, Graham Campbell, recently described how he had "cut prices to the bone", including a €12.95 lunch deal, to encourage trade.

It's believed that problems with the chain's overseas operations have contributed to forcing Asian restaurant chain Mao into receivership.

The chain was one of the culinary success stories of the past decade.

However, accounts for 2008, show that its operations were profitable that year, but interest and other charges left it with a €146,000 loss.

The performance of the company during the key period of 2009 is still unclear. The notes to the 2008 accounts show it had €1.4m in bank loans in various amounts due over periods ranging from one year to nine years.

And the most recent Companies' Office filings for Cafe Mao show the firm had bank borrowings of close to €2m at the end of 2008.

Allied Irish Banks declined to comment on whether the borrowings remained at that level.

Meanwhile there are fears for the 106 jobs at the B3 Cable Solutions plant in Longford, which has been placed in receivership.

Workers were told the company, which manufactures copper and optic fibre cables, is pulling out of Longford because it does not see the Irish economy showing any signs of significant recovery in the medium term.

Despite a major restructuring two years ago and a move to short-time working, Siptu says the appointment of a receiver at the plant has come as a bombshell to the staff.