Liquidator appointed to troubled Zoe group

 

THE APPOINTMENT of a liquidator to the two main financial companies in the heavily insolvent Zoe Group, Liam Carroll’s property development business, was confirmed by the Supreme Court yesterday, marking the end of the beleaguered business.

The court lifted a stay on orders winding up Vantive Holdings and the Jersey-based Morston Investments, which channelled bank loans of €1.3 billion to property companies across the group.

Accountant Declan Taite of FGS was confirmed as official liquidator of the companies on the back of petitions first presented to the High Court last August by ACCBank, which is owed €136 million by the group. Mr Taite declined to make any comment.

The court was previously told by counsel for Zoe that if Vantive and Morston were liquidated, the entire group of 51 companies would collapse.

ACC has also appointed Mr Taite receiver over four Zoe property firms that own two large landbanks in the Dublin docklands.

Ulster Bank yesterday became the seventh bank to appoint a receiver to take control of either properties or companies within the group following similar moves by Zoe’s other lenders last week.

Paul McCann of Grant Thornton accountancy firm in Dublin was appointed by Ulster Bank to Fabrizia Developments, which had guaranteed a loan from the bank over a property on Barrow Street in Dublin 4.

The claims of the receivers will rank ahead of the liquidator.

The Irish Timeshas learned that the various receivers appointed by Zoe’s lenders met on Tuesday to agree a co-ordinated approach to determine the securities held by the banks over the properties owned by the group.

It is understood that the receivers also assessed the ranking in which the banks hold charges over any properties backing loans provided by several lenders. They also agreed a co-operative strategy by which they will liaise with Zoe’s management, which is led by directors David Torpey and John Pope.

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) and Bank of Scotland (Ireland), the two largest lenders to the group, together with Bank of Ireland, Zoe’s fourth biggest lender, have seized control of a large number of the group’s commercial and residential investment properties.

The banks moved to take over management of the assets to ensure that rents would continue to be paid on the properties.

The High Court was told that the group received annual rents of €27 million on these properties.