O'Reilly faces forced sale of assets

Friday 27 June 2014 21.55
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said businessman Tony O'Reilly 'was insolvent'
Mr Justice Peter Kelly said businessman Tony O'Reilly 'was insolvent'

Businessman Tony O'Reilly faces a forced sale of assets in order to satisfy a €22m judgment after being refused a stay on the order today at the Commercial Court. 

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said Mr O'Reilly was insolvent and the probability was that the sale of assets would not cover the €22m owed to AIB. 

Mr Kelly said AIB had the right to be first in the queue of creditors having secured the judgment and it would be prejudicial to the bank to prevent it from exercising its legal rights. 

The former billionaire owes a total of €195m to his creditors. 

Earlier this week, Mr O'Reilly had asked for a six month stay on the judgment to facilitate an orderly sale of assets. He had wanted to control the sell off of his assets, including his 700 acre Castlemartin stud in Kildare, in order to repay his creditors.

AIB had been granted the judgment earlier this week and had opposed the stay. 

Mr O'Reilly's lawyers had told the court earlier this week that if a stay was refused, the consequences were 'potentially enormous'.

His legal team had argued that the price achieved by the sale of the Castlemartin estate in Kildare, described as the jewel in the crown of his assets, would be adversely affected by having a quick sale.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said that while this might be the case, it would still be prejudicial to AIB to refuse it the right to exercise its judgment.

The Judge also said he was not impressed with the offer to give notice to AIB if any creditor moved against Mr O'Reilly or his investment vehicles.

Mr O'Reilly's counsel also then asked for a further stay on the order until Tuesday as he said Mr O'Reilly was out of the country, in France, and he needed to consult with him.

He added that no creditor had moved against his cient since Tuesday.  AIB opposed this.

But Mr Kelly also refused this request. 

Former businesses ranged from food to glass and media

As a businessman, Mr O'Reilly's first big success came in the 1960s when he developed Kerrygold as an umbrella brand for Irish butter in export markets. He then joined food giant Heinz and became its chief executive in the US. 

In the 1970s, he bought a stake in Independent News & Media, which publishes the Irish Independent, Herald and Sunday Independent.

Under Mr O'Reilly, the company expanded into UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

He also controlled glass and ceramics group Waterford Wedgwood, while he had interests in cable television, oil, supermarkets, property and art.    

In 2009, he bet the family farm on saving ailing Waterford Wedgwood and along with his brother-in-law he ploughed €400m into the business.

But the group collapsed with hundreds of jobs losses and destroying the pensions of workers.

At the same time he lost control of the Independent Group to rival Denis O'Brien.