Winding-up petition for golf club adjourned

 

A PETITION to wind up the company which owns St Margaret's Golf and Country Club in north Co Dublin was adjourned in the High Court yesterday.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Costello, said he was not satisfied he had the full facts in front of him.

An Isle of Man-registered company, PW Ltd, brought a petition claiming Centenary Holdings Ltd, owner of the golf club, had failed to pay a debt of £567,000.

Centenary Holdings disputes the debt, claims it is solvent and asset-rich, and says the petition should be dismissed.

Bill SC, for PW Ltd, substantial assets in the form of a land bank which included St Margaret's golf club.

The amount claimed arose on foot of the development of the golf course for Centenary Holdings by PW Ltd and a number of associated companies of PW Ltd.

Mr Shipsey said that during the course of construction between 1992 and 1993 there had been a shortfall of monies available to Centenary Holdings and a request, was made to PW Ltd to advance monies to pay for completion of the clubhouse and course. There had been a promise that the monies would be repaid in May 1994.

He said PW Ltd had an associated company which carried on a very substantial engineering and construction business in Nigeria. The principal of what could be described as the PW Group was a Mr Hugo Flinn. The principal beneficiary of Centenary Holdings was a Nigerian national, Mr David Mark.

PW Ltd had served notice on Centenary Holdings in December 1996, claiming £567,000. Proceedings were begun against Mr Mark and Centenary Holdings by PW Ltd and Mr Flinn in the UK.

Mr Shipsey said the petition for winding up had been presented on January 27th last, and at that stage there was an allegation by solicitors for Centenary Holdings that the indebtedness of the company to the petitioner was disputed. No proceedings were begun by Centenary Holdings against PW Ltd.

Mr Michael Cush, counsel for Centenary Holdings, said the claim made by PW Ltd in the English proceedings was for a sum of £1.262 million, which was advanced by PW Ltd. Arising from that advance PW Ltd claimed to be entitled to 22 per cent of the shares in Centenary Holdings or repayment of the amount.

Mr Cush said the monies which constituted the alleged debts were the same in both proceedings. It was significant that the proceedings were not begun until 1996 and issued almost simultaneously in both jurisdictions.

Mr Justice Costello said he wanted to know what the parties claimed the terms were on which the monies were advanced. He was not satisfied he had the full facts but would be prepared to adjourn the matter to allow further affidavits to be submitted.

In an affidavit, Mr Anthony Crowe, a director of Centenary Holdings, said that if the courts in either country ultimately found there were monies due to PW Ltd such sums would be immediately paid. It had no significant creditors, other than the disputed claim by PW Ltd.

Mr Crowe said the basis of the original proposal for St Margaret's was that the total cost of development would be about £1.857 million, including acquisition of land, course development, clubhouse and interest charges. By April 1992 expenditure of £3.6 million had been incurred and the club house had not been built. By December 1992 expenditure totalled in excess of £5.2 million.

Mr Crowe said a financial review which he commissioned last August found the expenditure budget for St Margaret's was exceeded by 36 per cent at a time when actual income was lagging about 18 per cent behind budgeted figures.

The report also outlined that costs (in particular wages) were far in excess of the average costs required to maintain an 18-hole golf course.

Mr Crowe said the review also revealed "disturbing evidence" of a severe conflict of interest arising from the PW Group connection between St Margarets and Druids Glen golf course development.