Mayo high-profile hotel seeks High Court protection

Owner and operator of McWilliam Park Hotel to ask for appointment of examiner

Bubble-era property developers such as Seamus Ross of Menolly Homes and Garrett Kelleher of Shelbourne Developments are backing a high-profile hotel seeking High Court protection from its creditors.

Claremorris Tourism and MOPB Developments, the owner and operator of McWilliam Park Hotel, in Claremorris, Co Mayo, will ask the High Court next week to confirm the appointment of Kieran Wallace of KPMG as examiner.

The move will allow the companies protection from their creditors and give Mr Wallace, recently appointed on an interim basis, three months to come up with a rescue plan for the business that could mean losses for at least some of those owed money.

Claremorris Tourism and MOPB, led by local accountant Damian Prendergast, built the hotel in 2006 with the aid of a tax-relief investment scheme backed by Mr Ross, Mr Kelleher and David Andrews and Michael Tunney of Lioncourt Capital, among others.

Secured creditors

The tax-based investors are the hotel’s landlord through a company called

Coney Investments

, and are secured creditors along with

Ulster

Bank. It is not objecting to the examinership.

Mr Ross was one of the so-called Maple 10 developers to whom the former Anglo Irish Bank loaned money in 2008 to buy its shares. He is best-known as the founder of Lucan-based Menolly Homes, an active player in Ireland's housing market.

He is defending High Court proceedings brought by Stephen Tennant, of Grant Thornton – liquidator of another of his companies, Andiamo Properties – to have him disqualified from acting as a company director for five years. The application is the result of a dispute over his and fellow director Michael Keogh's handling of a €2.9 million tax demand. Both say they acted honestly.

Chicago Spire

Mr Kelleher’s Shelbourne Developments is primarily associated with the €1.5 billion Chicago Spire project, which has yet to get off the ground. He also owns

Eirtricity League

team St Patrick’s Athletic. He owes Nama about €350 million and has clashed with the State assets agency in court.

Lioncourt has invested in sectors ranging across property, food, hotels and technology. Mr Andrews and Mr Tunney are behind the profitable UK builder, Lioncourt Homes. Their firm has a stake in food group Valeo and backed Jacob Fruitfield.

Mr Prendergast blamed unsustainable debt for the McWilliam Park’s problems. The last available accounts for Claremorris Tourism show it owed almost €7 million to creditors at the end of April 2013. The business’s assets fell €1.8 million short of its liabilities.

Firms must be insolvent or close to it before going into examinership and must demonstrate a reasonable prospect of survival. The McWilliam Park said it would honour bookings made before and during the examiner’s appointment.