Friday, May 24, 2024

Provisional liquidator appointed to family business that ran Donegal hotel

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The High Court has appointed a provisional liquidator to a family business that ran a hotel in Co Donegal that is alleged to have been “abandoned”.

Jim McBride – who says he is owed some €4.75 million from the firm that ran Creevy Pier Hotel in Glebe, Ballyshannon – and Christopher McBride petitioned the court for the appointment in respect of McBfg Woodberry Leisure Limited.

The court heard Jim McBride’s son Keith McBride and daughter-in-law Glenda McBride are directors of McBfg and took general responsibility for the day-to-day running of the hotel.

In an affidavit, Jim McBride, who is in his 70s, said the hotel has recently been left “vacant and unprotected” and is concerned after being advised about a “completely untrue” local rumour claiming the hotel has been sold and was due to house asylum seekers.

A provisional liquidator could immediately focus on arranging insurance cover and security for the building, which has a market value of more than €1 million, he said.

Mr McBride said the company, of which he is a member, has ceased to trade and appears to be “hopelessly insolvent”. It is clear there has not been a functioning board of directors having regard to the interests of shareholders, creditors and employees, he added.

He estimates he is owed about €4.75 million for advances he made to the company over 11 years.

He was previously the technical director of Century Homes, which was sold for €98 million to the Kingspan Group in 2005. Mr McBride, with an address in Ballymacforban, Co Monaghan, said he went on to acquire the Ballyshannon hotel after having discussions with family.

He said he gave a personal loan of €160,000 per 20 per cent shareholder to invest in the company and loaned €1 million as start-up support. He later made further investments, while he also discharged a loan of about €1.5 million that had been called in by a debt purchaser.

Mr McBride claims he was almost totally uninvolved in the business by this point but issues arose between him and Keith when he discovered Keith was seeking to support a lifestyle beyond his means by using company funds.

He said that, on advice from his solicitors, he issued a demand to Keith and Glenda, both with an address in Armagh, Northern Ireland, for repayment of €2.54 million loan but no positive response came.

Mr McBride said he was abroad earlier this year when he “by chance” came across a post on social media stating that the hotel would be closed for essential maintenance. He said he later became more concerned when he noticed the hotel did not reopen for the Easter holidays or midterm.

Returning in mid-April, he claims, he discovered the electricity supply was disconnected, waste had not been collected and “it was clear to me that the door had simply been closed to the hotel” and the business had been “abandoned”, with lots of unopened letters dating back to January of this year.

He alleges the Revenue sheriff for Co Donegal has seized some furniture belonging to McBfg on foot of a claim for €127,700. The company has lost its drinks licence and faces “imminent” strike-off by the Companies Registration Office, he claims. He says he recently discovered that the building’s insurance was due to expire last week.

The petitioners’ barrister, Brian Walker, said the court has been presented with a “fairly bleak picture”.

While only the petitioners were represented before the court, Mr Justice Oisín Quinn appointed John Healy, of Kirby Healy Chartered Accountants, as provisional liquidator of the firm. He limited Mr Healy’s powers to arranging an electricity supply, insurance and to secure the property.

He directed Jim and Christopher McBride, of Smithboro, Co Monaghan, to notify the company, Keith and Glenda of the orders and petition.

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