Anthony O’Reilly fails in bid to get more time to repay debt

Former billionaire refused stay on €22.6 million judgment at the Commercial Court

 Former billionaire Tony O’Reilly has failed in his High Court bid to get more time to repay his debts.

Former billionaire Tony O’Reilly has failed in his High Court bid to get more time to repay his debts.

Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 12:42

Former billionaire Sir Anthony O’Reilly has failed in his legal bid to get more time to repay his debts.

He was refused a six month stay on execution of a judgment for €22.6 million entered against him, and other judgments totalling some €23 million against companies of his, at the Commercial Court .

The former billionaire who was once Ireland’s richest man now faces the prospect of a scramble for his remaining assets by his creditors, who are owed a total of €195 million.

Sir Anthony had consented to the AIB judgment on Monday, but had asked the court to delay it’s execution for six months. The former Independent News and Media chief executive had wanted to control the sell off of his assets, including his 700 acre Castlemartin stud in Kildare, in order to repay his creditors.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he considered any stay would be prejudicial to Allied Irish Banks and ample forbearance and time had been given to the defendants to pay their debts to AIB and they had failed to do so.

He refused an application by Sir Anthony’s lawyers to stay his ruling to Tuesday to allow Dr O’Reilly, who is in France, address a range of matters . AIB opposed that application saying it would prevent AIB registering a judgment mortgage over part of Sir Anthony’s Castlemartin estate and it was concerned other creditors might move.

The stay on registration and execution of judgment was sought so he could sell unencumbered assets including his 750 acre estate at Castlemartin, Co Kildare, the sale of which was described as “crucial” to discharging his debt to Allied Irish Banks.

If a stay was refused, the consequences were “potentially enormous” his lawyers told the court earlier this week while AIB, one of his nine creditor banks, said it believed he was insolvent. In a net worth statement last year, Sir Anthony had said he was solvent, the bank said.

Sir Anthony had not opposed the summary judgment orders sought by AIB arising from default on loan repayments, but said in court documents he was disappointed it had decided to depart from a forebearance understanding he had with his creditor banks.

“I have spent my whole life in business. I believe that, throughout a range of different commercial interests across a host of countries in several continets, I have built a reputation for honest dealing and straight talking.”

In that context, he said he had tried to maintain a degree of transparency with all the institutions which had given hin funds over the years so each would be aware where it stood vis a vis his other bankers. All of his bankers had known he would always treat them equally and the forberance arrangement was made with all of them to allow him achieve an orderly realisation of assets and equal treatment for his creditors, he said.

In his affidavits, Sir Anthony said serious expressions of interest in Castlemartin have been received from international bloodstock concerns while sales have been agreed for €3.2 million and €1.75 million respectively of his Dublin house on Fitzwilliam Square and another property, Shorecliffe House, Glandore, Co Cork.

He has also sold some 3.7 milion shares in Independent News & Media which are secured to ACC Bank.

Sir Anthony hopes the planned assets sale will discharge most if not all of the debt owed to AIB and Castlemartin is key to his ability to pay off the debt, the court heard.

The AIB debt represents some 11.6 per cent of his total debts. He also owes monies to ACC, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank Ireland, Mellon Bank, EFG Bank, Trust Bahamas Ltd, Lloyds TSB Bank and Lone Star, which acquired his Anglo loans.