Legal challenge to planned sale initiated by shareholders
A legal challenge to the planned €1.3 billion sale of Irish Life to the parent company of Canada Life has been initiated at the High Court. It is claimed the proposed sale is illegal.
The contract of sale was agreed by the Minister for Finance at 1pm yesterday but the deal is not expected to be finalised until July.
The Minister acquired the Irish Life Group from Irish Life and Permanent in late 2012 but some shareholders of Irish Life’s holding company Irish Life and Permanent Group Holdings plc (ILPGH) are seeking to block the proposed sale.
In proceedings against the Minister for Finance, the shareholders claim the sale is illegal and they are seeking orders deferring it until all legal actions concerning the ownership of Irish Life are resolved.
Yesterday, Piotr Skoczylas, a non-executive director of Permanent TSB, told Ms Justice Mary Laffoy he intended to seek a temporary injunction aimed at blocking the sale.
He agreed with the judge that where the contract of sale had been signed but would not be finalised until later this year the immediate urgency had gone out of the matter.
Representing himself, Mr Skoczylas said he intended to ask the court for an injunction preventing the sale pending the outcome of his action over that sale. He wished to modify his claim to reflect the fact the contract of sale had been agreed.
Eoin McCullough SC, for the Minister, said his side was surprised at an action “so late in the day” to block the sale and any such case should be heard as soon as possible.
The judge adjourned the matter for a week to allow the sides exchange legal documents.
Earlier yesterday, before the sale was announced, barrister Yvonne Moynihan, for another shareholder in ILPGH, John Paul McGann, said an application for an order preventing the sale going ahead was likely to be made by Mr Skoczylas and her client wished to make submissions concerning that.
The judge said she would not grant, on an ex parte application, an interim injunction preventing the sale.
The matter was too serious for an order to be made ex parte and she would not hear the application unless it were made in the presence of lawyers for the Minister, the judge said.
Last December, Mr Skoczylas was among a group of shareholders whose action aimed at preventing the sale of Irish Life to the Minister was dismissed by the High Court.
The Government acquired more than 99.8 per cent of ILPGH after injecting €2.7 billion into the group in July 2011, resulting in the shareholders’ equity in ILPGH being diluted from 100 per cent to 0.2 per cent. Mr Skoczylas is one of 130,000 shareholders who, following recapitalisation, own 0.2 per cent of the ILPGH.