This sounds like a light-hearted way to end the week, but it is a matter of fact that this evening the Independent is reporting that NAMA was in court today to stop a borrower obtaining examinership protection and that one of the grounds on which the Agency is arguing, according to the Independent, is concern over the “moral integrity” of the examinership application.
The case involves Kildare oil distributor, Tougher ‘s Oil Distributors Limited which both distributes fuel and owns petrol stations. It reportedly owes NAMA about €53m. On 31st October, 2012, it petitioned the High Court for the appointment of an examiner. For the non-Irish audience, examinership allows a distressed company to operate with protection from its creditors for a fixed period of time to allow the company produce a restructuring plan and/or attract an investor, and at the end of the period a judge may approve a restructuring proposal which can see losses imposed on creditors. [The case reference at the High Court is 2012/601 COS, and Tougher’s is represented by Amoss Solicitors. NAMA is not a party to the proceedings but it was appearing today to challenge the examinership because of its standing as a major creditor of the company]
Tougher’s directors are Patrick Tougher (67), Geraldine Tougher (65) and Patrick Mercer (66) and the company is 99% owned by Geraldine and Patrick Tougher.
All that happened today was that the judge, Mr Justice Brian McGovern, listed the matter for an urgent hearing next Thursday 15th November 2012 and in the meantime, ordered that no payments be made by the interim examiner Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton which would have the effect of prioritising creditors ahead of NAMA.
NAMA isn’t the only creditor – the Revenue Commissioners and Bank of Scotland are also reportedly creditors. Sadly the Independent don’t expand on what NAMA meant by “moral integrity” – the report merely says NAMA “had concerns about the moral integrity of the petition and how it had proceeded and also had concerns about potential diversion of monies by the company prior to examinership”
UPDATE: 20th November, 2012. Today’s issue of Iris Oifigiuil confirms that an examiner was in fact appointed to Tougher’s Oil Distribution Limited yesterday, 19th November. Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton was appointed examiner.
UPDATE: 10th February, 2013. Gavin Daly in the Sunday Times – not available online without a subscription – today reports that Masterlink Logistics, a Cork based haulage company is lining up an €8m bid for Tougher’s 10 filling stations and home heating business. Masterlink was founded in 1992 and is controlled by John O’Regan.