Concert promoter told ex-business partner he had cancer, court told


CONCERT PROMOTER Eamonn McCann told his longtime colleague Denis Desmond he had cancer and had been given five years to live as the pair discussed terms for ending their alleged business partnership, the Commercial Court heard yesterday.

The court heard their commercial relationship was named MCD, a combination of the initials of their surnames.

This was a “phantom illness” and something that should never have been said, Brian O’Moore SC, for Mr McCann, said when opening an action arising from a dispute between the two men about the share of profits due to Mr McCann from various outdoor events in the State over a number of years.

The illness claim was a “singularly stupid” and “particularly unforgivable act” especially given the relationship between the two men over the years, which included Mr McCann’s son being godson to a son of Mr Desmond, but was said in the context of Mr McCann being very worried about the business, counsel said.

The dispute between the men centres on a June 2006 agreement for Mr Desmond to buy Mr McCann’s share of their alleged partnership in the promotion and operation of outdoor concerts in the Republic for 4.66 times the average net profits for the three years 2003 to 2005.

Mr McCann, Deramore Drive, Belfast, is claiming he is owed some €3.8 million as his profit share related to a number of events between 2001 and 2006 but Mr Desmond says that figure should be €104,680.

Mr Desmond, Strand Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, denies Mr McCann’s claims, denies any partnership and contends there was a joint venture.

In his action, Mr McCann claims, having become increasingly concerned about the manner in which Mr Desmond dealt with profits from the alleged partnership, he had arranged for a “forensic” examination of books and records. Mr Desmond, he alleged, was reluctant to disclose the books and accounts and provided limited information relating to accounts.

Mr Desmond had not kept the accounts and income of the alleged partnership as a separate account but instead permitted those funds to be used by Mr Desmond’s MCD Productions company, Mr McCann claims. Further money received as sponsorship had been retained by another company controlled by Mr Desmond, Gaiety Investments, it is alleged.

Opening the case, Mr O’Moore said the two men had been in a commercial relationship since 1980 under the name MCD.

While there were various ups and downs between them, there were three forms of common activities between them, counsel said.

Mr McCann was the public face of MCD in relation to the organisation of indoor and outdoor events in Northern Ireland and in relation to bar sales at events throughout the country while Mr Desmond was the public face in relation to outdoor events in the Republic, counsel said.

The court was being asked to determine a number of discrete issues over the June 2006 agreement to buy out Mr McCann’s share in the partnership in relation to outdoor concerts in the Republic, counsel said.

These included the nature of the alleged partnership, how profits were calculated as part of the 2006 agreement and calculation of overheads and expenses.

The case continues.