This was also a particularly transformative year for Glanbia. The company finally secured a solution to a conundrum that has niggled away at it since its formation: how to negotiate the sometimes conflicting priorities of the plc and its majority owner, Glanbia Co-op.
After stating emphatically in 2010, following the defeat of the proposal to demerge Glanbia Co-op from the plc, that there was “no plan B”, Glanbia showed that in fact there was another option.
The complex, nuanced deal that was proposed and ultimately accepted by Glanbia Co-op was an example of how compromise and negotiation can deliver sensible results. It remains to be seen how Glanbia settles in to its new corporate structure, which effectively comprises three distinct strands: Glanbia plc, Glanbia Co-op and Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, the joint venture between the two groups. What direction each of these three entities take in 2013 will be the defining question for the company in the coming year.
Banking on bankruptcy in the UK
You’ve reached a sorry pass when the aim of a long drawn-out court case is to facilitate being declared bankrupt rather than to avoid it.
Solicitor and landlord Brian O’Donnell and his wife, Dr Mary Patricia O’Donnell, who want to be declared bankrupt under UK law rather than in the Republic, have failed to convince a British court that the main centre of their property business is London.
Had they done so, it would have paved the way for them to seek a bankruptcy declaration against them in the UK.
The key difference between the two legal systems is that the O’Donnells would have been discharged in one year in the UK, rather than the 12 it takes in the Republic – or even the three years that will apply here under new legislation currently awaiting enactment.
The pair could well appeal yesterday’s ruling. In that case, the process could take long enough that, if they were to lose, the Republic’s new personal insolvency laws will be on the statute books, opening up the possibility that they could avail of the easier regime here.
Either way, it is clear that the days of forum shopping for the easiest bankruptcy option are coming to an end. The UK and its courts do not want the jurisdiction to get a name as a convenient place to go to deal with your debts.
It is equally likely that the Republic’s courts are not too happy at the sight of citizens heading off to another jurisdiction to sort out their problems.
Part of the problem is the Republic’s archaic bankruptcy regime. This will shortly be rectified, and that move, combined with a tougher approach in the UK, should end one of the recession’s more bizarre sights, that of once-wealthy people attempting to convince a court that they ought to be bankrupted.
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