High Court orders 360networks to be wound up


The High Court yesterday granted an order for the winding up of 360networks (Ireland) Ltd, which last year opened a cable network station in Dublin to connect Ireland to North America and Europe. The Irish company is a subsidiary of 360networks Inc, a Canadian company which builds and supplies global fibre-optic communications networks through operating subsidiaries worldwide.

Mr Justice O'Higgins also made an order winding up 360 Atlantic (Ireland) Limited, another subsidiary of 360networks Inc. He appointed Mr Rory O'Ferrall, a chartered accountant of Deloitte and Touche, as official liquidator to both companies.

The winding-up petitions were brought by the building contractor firm, John Sisk and Company, and stated some £6 million (€7.62 million) was owed to it by both companies. It said some £5.8 million was owed to it by 360networks (Ireland). Of that sum, about £4.9 million was due to sub-contractors, mainly to Rotary M and E Services (Ireland) Ltd which claimed to be owed more than £4 million. Some £200,000 was also due to it from 360 Atlantic (Ireland) Ltd and some £143,000 of that amount was due to Rotary.

Sisk said it had agreed to carry out works at the 360networks (Ireland) premises at Clonshaugh Industrial Estate in Dublin. This involved the fitting out of a "web farm" facility at which digital messages were transmitted to other areas of the world via high-speed optical cable links. The facility at Clonshaugh was said to be capable of facilitating some 25 million phone calls simultaneously.

Work was to begin in September 2000 with a completion date of April 2001. The contract price was originally estimated at some £4 million but it was estimated the final total costs would be some £11.5 million. Sisk said it was essentially to act as project manager.

Sisk said 360networks had honoured payment provisions of its contract until July 13th last when it failed to issue a payment for some £3.4 million. At an earlier meeting on June 18th, Sisk was informed by Mr Robin McColloch, facilities manager of 360networks, that its parent company was in serious financial difficulties and work was to cease on the "web farm" project at Clonshaugh. Sisk had advised the sub-contractors to cease work. The managing director of the Irish operation, Mr Patrick Coughlan, was unable to provide information concerning the future of the Irish company. However, the parent organisation's legal counsel for Europe had indicated it was "a hopeless situation".

Sisk said it also learned Chase Manhattan Bank was owed "north of $1 billion" by 360networks Inc and that it was unlikely the assets of the group would be able to cover that debt. The bank had appointed a receiver over the companies.