Court clears way for Target sale
The High Court has cleared the way for the proposed sale of the business of trucking company Target Express to a Dublin-based company, Masterlink Logistics Ltd.
It is hoped the deal will result in the re-employment of some of Target's 398 laid-off employees, the court heard.
Target ceased trading last Monday, and two provisional liquidators, Stephen Tennant and Michael McAteer of accountancy firm Grant Thortnon, were appointed to it on Wednesday.
In a statement this evening, Masterlink Logistics confirm it had reached agreement with the liquidators over the remaining goodwill of the company.
"As a result, Masterlink Logistics will be seeking to re-employ as many of the former Target Express staff as possible. It is not possible to indicate exactly how many jobs will be restored at this point in time, as this will necessarily be dependent on customer support for the former Target Express business," the company said.
Stating it would be seeking to restore as many of the jobs lost this week as possible, Masterlink said it would be in "immediate contact" with Target's key customers to appeal to them to reinstate their business.
Earlier this evening, Rossa Fanning, for the liquidators, said they wanted permission to complete "within hours" the sale of the compay to Masterlink Logistics, based in Blanchardstown.
Mr Fanning said Masterlink had offered to buy the goodwill; intellectual property rights, including the business name; and customer list of Target.
A certain consideration was being offered, plus a percentage of any monies received by Masterlink as a result of having the customer list, counsel said. The amount of the consideration was not diclosed.
Mr Fanning said the percentage to be paid from benefits of the customer list - which was also not disclosed - may appear small but had to be seen in the context of the narrow profit margins available in the haulage business.
Counsel said another offer had been received by the liquidators but that they considered it infererior to the offer by Masterlink.
Mr Justice Roderick Muprhy said he would extend the powers of the liquidators to allow them effect the sale.
Earlier, Mr Fanning said the proposed sale did not include any fixed assets. Target did not own premises, and while it had a fleet of vehicles, some of these were subject to hire-purchase agreements. Under the proposed sale, Masterlink would have the right to purchase vehicles if it chose to do so.
The difficulty was that time was ticking on and the liquidators were anxious to retain as much of the company's trade and goodwill as possible, he said. Masterlink had committed to re-employing as many staff as possible but that was dependent on how much of Target's business it could secure. The more business Masterlink could get, the more jobs would be saved, the court was told.
The liqidators believed this deal was the best that could be secured in the marketplace and that it offered the best prospect of securing the business and employment, he said. There was "a certain amount of hope" in the proposed transaction as there was no certainty what return would be secured. There was no viable alternative, he added.
Mr Fanning also said the liquidators believed the company's creditors would agree to the sale. The deal was contingent on that agreement and on the court granting the liquidators the necessary powers, he said.
Target had ceased trading after the Revenue Commissioner, owed some €600,000 in social insurance contributions and PAYE deducted from workers' pay, took the exceptional step of ordering Target’s three largest customers and its bank to forward directly to the tax authorities money due to the company.
It is thought Target owes €5 million to its single biggest creditor, British-based Close Brothers, an invoice-discounting specialist.
Bank of Scotland appointed Brian Murphy and Michael Jennings as administrators to Farnley Investments, Target's Northern Ireland property-holding company.
Jim Hamilton is receiver of ASDA, its Republic of Ireland property company.