Takeover of USIT by STA approved


The Tánaiste, Ms Harney, has approved the takeover of USIT by STA, the Swiss-owned youth travel company. STA - part of Deithelm Keller Holdings - bought 82 per cent of the group for €1 before its collapse in February.

The remaining 18 per cent was retained by Mr Gordon Colleary, the company's founder.

The takeover has been approved subject to a number of conditions. They include the continued provision of tickets to USIT's smaller rivals - SAYIT in Cork and DUST in Dublin. A non-compete clause restricting Mr Colleary has also been altered.

The conditions follow a review of the deal by the Competition Authority. A spokesman for the Tánaiste added that the interests of the company's staff had also been taken into account.

Some indications of STA's plans emerged in the High Court yesterday. The examiner appointed to the group at the request of STA - Mr David Hughes of Ernst & Young - told the court that he believed the Irish part of the group could be saved, but not the parent company.

A restructuring plan had been drawn up for Usit Ireland - which trades as Usit Now - but it had not been possible to draw one up for Usit World Plc, the parent company.

The creditors of Usit Ireland companies will be asked to consider the schemes at meetings scheduled for later this week. Mr Justice McCracken said he would defer until May 15th a decision on whether or not to now appoint a liquidator to Usit World.

Another subsidiary, Usit Ltd - which is registered in Northern Ireland - has already been put into liquidation by National Irish Bank on foot of debts in excess of €3.36 million. Yesterday counsel for Usit Ltd, which was the group's treasury operation, indicated it wanted Usit World plc placed in liquidation. The treasury company claimed to be owed €120 million by other group companies including Usit World when it was put into liquidation.