330 staff to hold onto jobs under rescue plan

The G Hotel: one of the businesses at the centre of the rescue plan.

The 330 workers in companies controlled by Galway developer Gerry Barrett – including the g Hotel, the Meyrick and the Eye Cinema – have been told they will keep their jobs under a rescue plan approved by the High Court.

The Court of Appeal last month confirmed Neil Hughes, of Hughes Blake, as examiner to seven companies set up by Mr Barrett, which owed €690 million to Deutsche Bank and faced the threat of receivership

Waltzfire, made up of property manager, Alanis Capital, hotelier Choice Hospitality and Kensington Ventures, led by cinema operator Lorcan Ward, have reportedly paid €89 million for the hotel and property portfolio, which includes the Wellpark Retail Park as well as apartments.

Mr Hughes wrote to their 330 staff last week promising they would keep their jobs if the courts approved a rescue plan where Waltzfire takes over the businesses.

Under the scheme of arrangement, all the companies’ suppliers, the Revenue and local council rates will be paid in full.

Creditors are due to meet this week to vote on whether to accept the terms of the scheme. If they approve, it is likely the plan will return to the High Court for approval.

Mr Hughes was granted leave to enter an agreement with Waltzfire after he turned down a proposal from Besomhill, a company controlled by Mr Barrett, to take back charge of the property empire.

The examiner sought the order because the directors of the companies would not sign documents giving control to Waltzfire and said he feared the deal would fall through.

Opposing the application, Gary McCarthy SC, for the companies, said the directors had not signed because they had insufficient information about the Waltzfire proposal.

Deutsche Bank backed the bid by Waltzfire. The main investor Alanis has more than €1 billion in property assets across Europe and central America.

Last month, Mr Hughes was confirmed by the Court of Appeal as the examiner to firms connected to several businesses including the five-star G Hotel, four-star Meyrick Hotel, apartments, a retail park and the Eye Cinema.

The companies sought the protection of the court after Deutsche Bank appointed a receiver over the firms, which employ more than 330 full time and part time staff.

The bank, which is owed more than €690m by the group after acquiring its loans from Nama in 2015, had opposed the examinership on grounds including it was an attempt by the companies to renege on a 2016 debt settlement agreement which would have resulted in the sale of the group’s assets to reduce its debt to the bank.

That was denied by the companies, who argued that Deutsche Bank had breached the settlement agreement.