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“Additional financing to existing borrowers: The merged entity may not provide additional financing which is not contractually committed at the time of the approval of the joint restructuring plan (in line with the commitment referred to in point (ii)).” European Commission decision on 29th June 2011 on the run-down of Anglo and Irish Nationwide

There is no development at the High Court in respect of Paddy McKillen’s (and Denis O’Brien’s) application for an injunction against the Sunday Times and its reporter, Mark Tighe – there are no new filings and we are now well past the six weeks which was intimated would be the full hearing date when the partial injunction was obtained by Paddy at the end of March 2013. The Sunday Times has in recent weeks provided some additional reporting of the general matter subject to the injunction, and it seems one of the details is that Paddy sought what was described by the Sunday Times as an emergency loan approval last October 2012 to pay some of the €25m estimated legal fees which Paddy was ordered to pay when he lost his High Court challenge against the Barclay brothers.

The Sunday Times reported that Paddy sought approval for a [CORRECTED] GBP 5.0m (€6) – the Sunday Times refers to a GBP 5m (€5.9m) loan in one part of the story and a [CORRECTED] GBP 5.9m legal fees bill elsewhere [CORRECTION: the loan sought was €5.9m but the legal fees bill that was falling due to be paid was GBP 5.9m, in other words, Paddy was seeking a loan for just part of the legal fees bill] – loan to pay the legal fees that he was required to pay on account, pending the appeal of the decision, the outcome of which we’re still eagerly awaiting. The Sunday Times reported that the board of IBRC – remember Mike Aynsley was then CEO and Alan Dukes was chairman – approved the loan. According to Paddy, he eventually decided to fund the [CORRECTED] GBP 5.0m element of the GBP 5.9m legal fees from elsewhere.

All well and good.

But it seems that there is now an issue regarding the decision by the IBRC board to approve the loan to Paddy, even if Paddy didn’t eventually draw it down. IBRC operates under rules imposed on it in June 2011 when the European Commission approved an orderly wind-down of IBRC. One of the terms of the decision by the EU is that

“Additional financing to existing borrowers: The merged entity may not provide additional financing which is not contractually committed at the time of the approval of the joint restructuring plan (in line with the commitment referred to in point (ii)).”

Point (ii) states

“Ban to develop new activities and to enter new markets: The merged entity will not develop any new activities and will not enter new markets, that is to say that the merged entity will not carry out any activities other than those that are consistent with managing the work-out of the Anglo and INBS legacy loan book (including loan sales, where appropriate, to maximise recovery values). In particular, the merged entity will maintain and use its banking licence only as long as necessary for the work-out of the loan portfolios and will not use it to develop new activities. […].”

In the Dail this week, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked Minister for Finance Michael Noonan if IBRC breached these rules in approving a €5m (sic) additional loan to Paddy. Minister Noonan, whilst citing the European Commission decision overall, says that he is “not aware of any breaches by IBRC of the Commitments contained in that decision.”

The parliamentary question and response is here.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation breached the terms of its Commitments Letter to the European Commission by issuing a further €5 million loan to a person (details supplied) in 2012 to pay legal costs, when their debt with IBRC amounted to approximately €900 million in personal and corporate accounts at the time. [23153/13]

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I am advised by the Special Liquidators that they are not in a position to comment on individual cases. The information requested is confidential and it would not be appropriate for the Special Liquidators to release such information.The terms of the European Commission Commitments letter are contained in the Commission Decision of 29.06.2011 and published at –

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases/235764/235764_1251125_112_6.pdf

I am not aware of any breaches by IBRC of the Commitments contained in that decision.

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GayleNoticeParty

According to the US court service, PACER, there have been 52 filings so far in Sean Dunne’s bankruptcy in Connecticut – the betting is that by the time this bankruptcy is resolved there will be a multiple of 52. Yesterday’s filing is by Sean’s wife, who is now styled “Gayle Killilea Dunne”, not Gayle Killilea and not Gayle Dunne. Gayle’s request is to be recognized as a notice party in the bankruptcy under Rule 2002 and Rule 9010 of the Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Rule 2002 applies to “Creditors, Equity Security Holders, Administrators in Foreign Proceedings, Persons Against Whom Provisional Relief is Sought in Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases” and requires the applicant to be treated as notice party to the bankruptcy proceedings. Rule 9010 appears to simply allow the notice party to be represented by a lawyer.

Gayle has engaged Connecticut law firm Reid and Reige and her specific lawyer is Eric Henzy, described on his bio at the firm as practicing in “business bankruptcies and workouts and business and commercial litigation”.

It should be stressed, if it isn’t apparent already, that it is only Sean Dunne who has filed for bankruptcy; by all appearances, Gayle’s finances appear to be hale and hearty and she is financially separate from her husband. It should also be stressed that there is no separation or divorce proceedings chez Dunne, and Gayle’s Irish solicitors, Clerkin Lynch have made that clear this week, though that story appears no longer to be online. [CORRECTION: the Sunday Times story is accessible here]

The application is here.

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Take Paddy McKillen, pictured below right.

DrownedAndSaved

In 2010 and 2011, he fought tooth-and-nail in Dublin’s High Court and Supreme Court to stop NAMA acquiring his loans. In the end, the Supreme Court judges decided that NAMA could acquire Paddy’s loans but would have to consult with him beforehand. Despite swearing blind at the High Court that Paddy’s loans were “systemic”, NAMA abandoned the fight and decided not to acquire Paddy’s loans which remained at IBRC and Bank of Ireland.

Lucky for Paddy.

Because right now, Paddy has been given a window to refinance his IBRC loans – estimated to be €300m of personal loans and €550m of corporate loans. To refinance his loans, Paddy must repay them 100% and Paddy has been having a whinge through the press recently that IBRC is not accepting his most generous offers which are almost equal to what Paddy owes. Paddy’s window to refinance at 100% expires soon; originally, the liquidator at IBRC was going to have the loans valued by the end of May 2013 and they would then be offered to the market, unless they had been refinanced at 100%. That valuation of the IBRC loans by USB and PwC due at the end of May, seems to have slipped but regardless, it will be a matter of weeks when the un-refinanced loans are offered to the market.

Why is Paddy lucky? Because, even after his refinancing window closes, he will be able to bid for his own loans, and if his bid is the highest and if the bid is in excess of the independent valuation, then Paddy will be able to acquire his loans at a discount. So IBRC into which we have shoveled €34bn will be selling its loans to the market, and if the borrower is the highest bidder for those loans then the loans will be sold to the buyer at a discount, or in other words, the borrowers will receive debt forgiveness or a debt writedown.

To illustrate, if Paddy has personal loans of €300m today, he can refinance these today at 100%, that is pay IBRC €300m and any outstanding interest and fees. After the refinancing window closes, then IBRC will offer Paddy’s loans to the market and say the highest bid is €200m and this is in excess of the market value of the loans, then they will be sold to that bidder regardless of who that bidder is. If it’s Paddy, then he gets €100m of debt forgiveness, no questions asked.

Contrast that with NAMA which is prevented by the NAMA Act from selling assets back to debtors below their par values. So, if a NAMA debtor owes NAMA €300m and offers NAMA €200m for them, and if NAMA markets the loans and €200m remains the highest bid, then NAMA can NOT sell the loans to the NAMA debtor. Which brings us to Sean Reilly (pictured top above, left) who happens to owe NAMA about €300m according to press reporting. Sean is prevented by the NAMA Act from having an interest in buying these loans. The best Sean can do is show some leg to potential investors and try to get them interested in bidding for the loans, and the best Sean can hope for is to act as a consultant after the loans have been sold to someone else.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is clueless about all of this, he doesn’t know how much the NAMA proscription is costing NAMA and by extension the State. He also doesn’t know why there is one rule for IBRC disposals and another entirely for NAMA’s.

What an eejit, and given he is being advised by the Department of Finance on these policies, what a bunch of eejits are employed there.

The Minister was responding to a parliamentary question from the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty. The response must count amongst the most nonsensical you’re ever likely to see.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Finance the reason the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation borrowers will be eligible to buy their own loans at less than par value when such loans over €10m are offered to the market imminently, but that borrowers at the National Asset Management Agency are precluded by the NAMA Act from buying their own loans at below par value..

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: As previously advised, independent third parties are being engaged to independently value the loan assets of IBRC (in Special Liquidation). There is an obligation on the Special Liquidators to ensure that assets of IBRC are sold at a price that is equal to or in excess of the independent valuations that are being obtained. A process is currently being finalised that ensures that maximum value is extracted from the loan sales. The Special Liquidators are responsible for putting in place a liquidation process which fulfils their obligation under the IBRC Act and where applicable the Companies Acts.  It is a matter for the Special Liquidators to determine what bidders constitute qualifying bidders for the purposes of the sales process.

The protocol which is in place for the disposal of the IBRC assets is guided in a specified manner as the Special Liquidator will only be holding the assets for a limited period of time. Any assets that are not sold to third parties for a value higher than the independent valuations will be sold to NAMA at that price. Assets that are transferred to NAMA will then be subject to the protocol according to the NAMA Act 2009.

It is the objective of NAMA in any loan sale to achieve its commercial mandate of obtaining the best financial return on behalf of the State. In accordance with the NAMA Act procedures have been put in place by the Agency to achieve these objectives.

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SDNAMAsubpoenaed

So far, the bankruptcy in Sean Dunne’s bankruptcy case has sought to subpoena three companies and individuals – Credit Suisse, People’s United Bank and an employee of the property company Bruce Shaw called Andy Smyth. Today, the trustee, Richard Coan has made a fourth application for a subpoena and this latest application is seeking to have NAMA questioned on 28th May 2013 about matters relating to Sean Dunne’s bankruptcy.

You may have gotten the impression that NAMA was Sean Dunne’s sole creditor, but in fact Ulster Bank rivals NAMA for title of biggest creditor and the bankruptcy trustee has a duty to all of the creditors.  The trustee is seeking to question NAMA under a provision of the US bankruptcy code known as a Rule 2004 Examination which allows the trustee to question NAMA under oath and seek documentation.

The justification for subpoenaing NAMA is given by the bankruptcy trustee in the following terms

“the National Asset management Agency has information relevant to the assets of the Debtor and/or transfers made by the debtor. The National Asset Management Agency may have other information relevant to the administration of the bankruptcy estate of Sean Dunne.”

Sean Dunne’s creditors meeting has been postponed to 29th May 2013, so it would seem that NAMA can kill two birds with the one (airline ticket) stone by submitting themselves to the bankruptcy trustee on 28th May.

The full application for an order, which is likely to be approved by the judge, is here.

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The “independent valuation” of IBRC’s loans by PwC and UBS was originally supposed to be completed by May, but that might slip to June – remember NAMA still hasn’t got EC approval for 40% of its acquisitions from 2010, so this plan to value loans which had a par value of €27bn last June 2012 and a book value of €16bn, looks ambitious. When the “independent valuations” are complete, that is when the IBRC Special Liquidator will offer the loans to the market. Some borrowers are trying to refinance their loans now before the loans are valued and offered to the market, but they need repay 100% and meet any other contractual payments required under the loan agreements.

DBImageTwitter

One IBRC borrower who doesn’t look like he can refinance his loans 100% is star of the original production of the Dragons Den format on the BBC, Duncan Bannatyne (pictured above). If you’re not familiar with Duncan, he’s like our own Ben Dunne minus the coke and the prossies, having successfully built up a chain of fitness centres, though he has a varied background which includes mobile ice cream sales, nursing homes, kindergartens and writing. He is most recognized in the UK as one of the original investors and business angels on the BBC’s Dragons Den.

The Daily Mail today claims that Duncan has loans with IBRC and suggests that he might owe them GBP 122m (€144m). On Twitter this morning, Duncan is disputing claims made in the Daily Mail article

DBDMGuntrue

but states that he is trying to refinance part of a loan with IBRC, repaying 100% including all contractually owed amounts on that part. He doesn’t indicate what the “part” is but he does say that he hasn’t personal guarantees

DBNoPGs

 

and has only the one loan

DBNoAllOneLoanand is offering to pay all contractually due fees and interest on the part of the loan he is trying to refinance

DBAllFeesPaid

 

The Daily Mail this morning reports that Duncan was originally advanced the loan in 2006 by what was then Anglo, to buy 24 health clubs from the Hilton group.

Duncan is now in the same boat as Paddy McKillen, Denis O’Brien and a slew of other borrowers who have a window to refinance their loans at 100% or else face having to bid for their own loans and possibly – in the case of Paddy McKillen at least – see their loans sold to business rivals. And any unsold loans will eventually end up in NAMA, something that Paddy McKillen at least wanted to avoid at all costs previously.

Paddy McKillen has been making headlines recently with his well-publicised bid to refinance €179m of his loans at par. Paddy is understood to owe IBRC around €900m comprising €300m of personal borrowings and €550m of corporate borrowings. He was attempting to refinance part of these loans at 100% but says that the Special Liquidator insisted he pay 100% of the €179m loan plus €7m early repayment fees, and although Paddy says he was prepared to pay the former, he wasn’t prepared to pay the latter.

It is unclear why Duncan would only offer to repay part of his loan. Presumably it would give him greater leverage over the underlying health clubs, and it might deter bidders when the remainder of the loan is offered to the market. On the latter point, Duncan claims that no-one has been appointed to value his loan.

DBNoValuersAppointed

He didn’t respond to a Tweet that both UBS and PwC have been appointed by the Special Liquidator of IBRC, to value loans generally. KPMG won’t want to comment on a specific loan but it is understood that the option offered by KPMG to borrowers for refinancing of a borrower position is to refinance it at par.

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General  
The reserved judgment in the Paddy McKillen
appeal hearing in London is due any day now
IBF mortgage drawdowns for Q1,2013 due
Central Bank arrears/repossessions Q1,2013 due
   
Monday 13th May 2013
Eurogroup meeting Brussels
   
Tuesday 14th May 2013
EcoFin meeting Brussels
   
Wednesday 15th May 2013
Allsop Space auction in Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
IPD UK commercial property indices April 2013
(CSO) Agricultural Price Indices March 2013
(CSO) Industrial Disputes Quarter 1 2013
Educn & Soc Protection Oireachtas comm: rent allowance
   
Thursday 16th May 2013
(CSO) Goods Exports and Imports March 2013
KBC Ireland Q1,2013 results
ECB Governing Council meeting
Good Friday Agreemt Oireachtas comm: Narrow Water Bridge
   
Friday 17th May 2013
(CSO) Trade Statistics February 2013
   
   
Saturday/Sunday

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It has been relatively quiet this week with Sean Dunne’s bankruptcy in the Connecticut bankruptcy court – the creditors meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday has been moved to 29th May 2013 apparently at NAMA’s request, though given it had one working day to review Sean’s statement of affairs filed at 10pm last Friday, perhaps that request was understandable even if they had seen practically all of the information before when Sean presented NAMA with his business plan and accompanying documentation. The bankruptcy trustee was also scheduled to have quizzed Credit Suisse, People’s United Bank and a Bruce Shaw employee, Andy Smyth, this week.

Last night, Sean did file a “means-test calculation statement” which is intended to set out in detail the income and expenses of the bankrupt. However, in Sean’s case, he unsurprisingly states that his debts are not primarily consumer debts, and is therefore exempted from providing the minutiae of his financial income and outgoings. For your information though, the statement is here.

Also yesterday, NAMA’s lawyers, New Jersey firm, McCarter and English filed a statement – available here – with the Connecticut bankruptcy court showing that NAMA’s lawyer Thomas Goodwin is a lawyer is “good standing” and should therefore be accepted as NAMA’s legal representative in the Connecticut bankruptcy.

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In the Dail this week, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan provided details of the PR expenditure at the  NTMA, an umbrella agency which encompasses NAMA. We learned that Gordon MRM, the PR agency most associated with NAMA, received just over €200,000 a year during the past three years or a total of €660,000 to the end of February 2013. This company was re-appointed to the role after a competitive tender process involving four other companies, at the end of 2012. It has done a reasonable job of promoting NAMA during the past three years, and it must be said that aside from the Enda Farrell affair, NAMA has emerged reasonably unscathed in terms of its reputation, though credit for that clean sheet is broad-based. If only Gordon MRM could gets its archive of press releases on its website to work…

But what was unexpected in Minister Noonan’s response is the NTMA has also engaged the British PR company which is the respondent in a Paddy McKillen defamation action in Dublin’s High Court. Powerscourt has been paid just over €250,000 in the last 3.5 years by the NTMA though €160,000 was spent in 2010 alone. On 27th February 2013, developer and businessman, Paddy sued Powerscourt and one of its executives, Conal Walsh in Dublin’s High Court.

A statement was made by Powerscourt on 30th November 2012 on behalf of the Barclays – the two brothers fighting to take control of three London hotels in which Paddy McKillen has a 36% stake – a statement which contained something which Paddy regards as, according to the Sunday Independent, “defamatory of him as they questioned his motivation for bringing proceedings before the UK Court of Appeal” in the latter half of 2012. You might recall that following Paddy’s defeat in the London High Court last August 2012, he was firstly hit with legal costs which have been estimated at €25m. We learned from the Sunday Times recently that Paddy sought what was described as an emergency loan of GBP 5-5.9m last October 2012 at IBRC; approval for that loan application was given by IBRC though it seems that Paddy funded those partial legal costs from elsewhere. Paddy sought, and was granted, permission to appeal the UK High Court judgment, the appeal was heard at the start of February 2013 and a judgment is expected any day now.

Paddy is, at present, complaining that there is what is described by the Irish Times as a “sustained strategy” against him involving NAMA and the Department of Finance. The NTMA’s engagement of Powerscourt may just exacerbate that sense of grievance Paddy is suing associates of the Barclays as well as Powerscourt and its executive for defamation in Dublin. Separately, he is suing NAMA for breach of confidentiality and privacy. He has launched legal action against the Sunday Times and one of its journalists Mark Tighe over a story which a judge has partly injuncted. And any day now, he will learn the outcome of his appeal against a UK High Court decision.

The NTMA expenditure on PR emerged from parliamentary questions asked by the Sinn Fein jobs and enterprise spokesperson, Peadar Toibin and are here:

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will provide, in tabular form, a list public relations companies that received payments from either the National Assets Management Agency, the National Treasury Management Agency, the National Development Finance Agency, the State Claims Agency or the National Pension Reserve Fund; the overall cost of these payments from each agency named and the level of payments made by each agency to each company listed in respect of work carried in the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [21365/13]

Deputy Peadar Tóibín:To ask the Minister for Finance the number of companies or individuals that recently tendered for the renewal of the public relations contract for the National Treasury Management Agency; and if the NTMA secured a reduction in the rate charged in the previous contract. [21366/13]

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 146 together.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) does not maintain an internal press office. Instead, its internal communications resources are supported by an external service provider (appointed following a public procurement process) – currently Gordon MRM – in order to offer a full press office and communications service (including out-of-hours contacts for the media) across all the NTMA’s business areas: Debt Management, National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), National Pensions Reserve Fund, National Development Finance Agency, State Claims Agency, NewERA and, during 2010 and 2011, the Banking Unit.

These arrangements were initially put in place during 2010 in light of a significant increase in the volume of domestic and international media queries being received by the NTMA and associated bodies. In September 2012 the NTMA retendered for the provision of these services. A total of five companies submitted tenders. Following the tender evaluation process the NTMA awarded the contract to Gordon MRM in December 2012.

The initial contract, in place to end-2012, was based on an hourly rate for services provided. During the term of this contract a 20% reduction in the hourly rate was agreed with effect from June 2011 until the end of the contract. The new contract, which commenced in January 2013, is based on a fixed fee and it is anticipated that this will result in a significant reduction in the overall fees paid by the NTMA.

NAMA draws on the NTMA’s shared services in a number of areas including its outsourced press office facility. NAMA reimburses the NTMA in respect of the costs of these services attributable to NAMA.

The overall costs incurred for the provision of the services above (excluding VAT) were as follows:

2010 – €207,255*

2011 – €205,388 (of which €112,353 was charged to NAMA)

2012 – €223,723 (of which €142,653 was charged to NAMA)

2013 – €24,488 (to end-February) (of which €12,000 was charged to NAMA).

* In 2010 costs were not specifically attributed to NAMA. NAMA was charged a proportionate share of the NTMA’s third party service costs which included Gordon MRM.

In the light of the sovereign debt crisis the NTMA also engaged Powerscourt – a London based communications consultancy – for international communications initiatives in the funding and debt management area. Total costs (excluding VAT) incurred for the provision of the services provided by Powerscourt were as follows:

2010 – €160,334

2011 – €74,395

2012 – €10,257

2013 – €12,103 (to end-February).

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Last month, NAMA moved against the Kennedy Group, the (London)Derry developer whose assets included the Ramada Portrush Hotel. The initial foreclosure was followed last week with news that NAMA succeeded in having seven additional properties placed in receivership. This afternoon, we learn that the Kennedys are suing NAMA in Belfast’s High Court. Details of the application are expected shortly and will be added as an update here.

Brothers, Alistair Kennedy and Christopher Kennedy (Chris Kennedy) are suing National Asset Loan Management Limited and IBRC; IBRC is now in special liquidation. The case reference is 13/042914 and the case is scheduled for mention next week, 14th May 2013.

We don’t know the details of the application or the remedy sought – but we will soon. But last month, Alistair Kennedy gave an interview to the BBC in the aftermath of the foreclosing on the Ramada Portrush Hotel loan, and he was not at all happy with NAMA’s actions, and seemed to believe that NAMA had acted hastily.

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BotanicInnsLogo

From Belfast this morning, we learn that Botanic Inns the company which operates 14 pubs in Belfast and employs 600 people has been placed in administration, with KPMG appointed as administrator. A fortnight ago, it was reported that NAMA developer John Miskelly was pursuing a winding-up order against the group after rent arrears arose on the pub chain’s head office building on Ormeau Road in Belfast. At the time, it was hoped that the recovery action would only affect the head office of the group, but this morning, KPMG has been appointed to administer the chain of pubs, restaurants and hotels whilst a buyer is sought. NAMA is a landlord to five of the 14 pubs, after NAMA foreclosed on loans in 2011 owed by Clare developers, Sean Lyne and Noel Connellan. In addition to the pubs, Botanic operates two hotels – Madison’s and Parador – and two off licences.

The news today follows a report in the Belfast Telegraph this morning claiming that three pubs a week were now closing in Northern Ireland, a jurisdiction that has suffered a greater economic downturn than the Republic, on a GDP-type basis – its unemployment rate has also risen to 8.5%, though that is considerably less than the 14.0% unemployed in the Republic. At present, all the Botanic outlets continue to trade as normal whilst the administrator seeks a buyer.

It is understood that NAMA showed some degree of flexibility on the terms attaching to the five outlets under its control. Ulster Bank is understood to be the other major lender to properties from which the group operates. Again, it’s business as usual for customers of the group, but there will be deep concern that not all of the outlets will survive.

UPDATE: 7th May, 2013. The Ulster pub trade body, Pubs of Ulster has issued a statement in which its chief executive, Colin Neill commented “on the latest news about the appointment of a joint Administrator to Botanic Inns Limited and its parent company Kurkova:

This is disappointing news for Botanic Inns Limited and its parent company Kurkova.
Botanic Inns is an iconic brand for the city of Belfast and right across Northern Ireland. It has always had the highest reputation and regarded as one of our blue chip companies and we must do all we can to help support it at this time.

We welcome the Administrators intention that the venues will continue to trade as normal and that regulars and visitors to the Botanic Inns pubs and bars should be reassured that they are open for business.

It is no secret that factors have accumulated over the past year which has made it a very tough trading environment right across the industry. The revenue reserves normally built up by publicans during the Christmas season have suffered in the current trading environment and the negative impact of the recent flag protests compounding the problems faced by the trade.

At the end of 2012 the number of pub licences in Northern Ireland numbered 1252, down from 1481 in the year ending 2007. This can be put down to a number of factors such as the change in social habits, property revaluations, non-renewal of licenses and the impact that supermarket pricing is having. The offer from our pubs and bars here is still of the highest quality and remains a valuable asset.

It is important to reiterate that the pub industry is a key economic driver and its health and vitality are crucial in the sustainability of the economy as a whole. It must be protected.”

UPDATE (1): May 14th, 2013. The BBC reports that six of the pub businesses in administration have been sold to “the Horatio Group”, which is controlled by Stephen Magorrian, the managing director of Botanic Inns up to last week. There is no word about the freeholds in the pubs whose businesses have been sold – “the Botanic Inn, Madisons Hotel, the Kings Head, the Northern Whig, the Elms and the Fly” according to the BBC. 300 jobs are understood to have been saved. There are seven other businesses being run by the administrator, also employing 300 people, and the administrator expresses confidence that these businesses can be sold also.

UPDATE  (2): May 14th, 2013. Industry group, Pubs of Ulster has issued a statement reacting to this morning’s news  in which Colin Neill, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster said “We are pleased to hear the news from the administrator that a buyer has been found for at least 6 of the pubs, including the iconic Bot, previously owned by the Botanic Group.

It is great news that around 300 jobs have been saved and some of Belfast’s most high profile pubs will continue to trade. This is not only good for the industry but vital for the economy here in Northern Ireland.

We are optimistic that the remaining pubs and jobs will be saved in the not too distant future given the quality of the outlets.

Although this is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by the industry in the current environment, we are working with the government and other stakeholders to protect one of the most important economic generators for Northern Ireland.”

UPDATE (3): 14th May 2013. It seems NAMA is the hero of the day, having renegotiated terms on its six properties which had previously been operated by Botanic Inns. The BBC reports that NAMA last negotiated the new terms with Horatio Taverns Limited, a company incorporated in February 2013 whose directors are Stephen Magorrian, his wife Laura Magorrian and Lorraine Ormsby. Apparently it is Ulster Bank which has failed to renegotiate terms, at least for the time being. Pricewaterhouse Coopers appears to have acted for Horatio in the successful negotiations with NAMA, and also in the unsuccessful negotiations with Ulster Bank.

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