Judgment on failed Carroll application

Friday 11 September 2009 22.29
Liam Carroll - Application for examinership denied
Liam Carroll - Application for examinership denied

Justice Frank Clarke has delivered his written judgment on the application for examinership by property developer Liam Carroll's Zoe group.

Mr Justice Clarke turned down the application yesterday.

In delivering his judgment, Mr Justice Clarke described prospects for the survival of the Zoe Group as at 'the further ends of optimism.'

The seven companies in the Zoe Group had applied for the protection of the court following moves by ACC bank to recover loans of €136m.

The companies have combined debts of €1.2bn.

The group's original application was turned down by the Commercial Court and the Supreme Court.

Over the course of a lengthy judgment this afternoon, Mr Justice Frank Clarke outlined why he believed the companies did not have a reasonable prospect of survival, which is the statutory test for examinership.

He described as a 'significant flaw in the business plan', the fact that interest rates had been calculated to remain at just 1% over the next two years or so.

Justice Clarke said the evidence of economic experts suggested that rates would rise and that even a rise of 0.5% would add four million to the companies' interest bill.

He noted that even though the plan envisaged an interest moratorium for two years, it would still have to pay the interest when it emerged at the other end, which he said could have 'a devastating impact.'

Referring to the prospects for the property market in general, he said there was a greater downside risk to prices, at least over the next two years, and there were also risks to the rental income projected by the group.

On NAMA, Mr Justice Clarke noted that in excess of 50% of the group's banking debt could be covered by the scheme and while it was impossible to speculate how NAMA would approach the loans, he said the overall interests of NAMA would not be dissimilar to a commercial bank, namely to recover as much money as possible.

Mr Justice Clarke deferred making an order on the judgment until Monday and also adjourned winding up proceedings by ACC until the same date.