The firm behind Golden Pages has a 'reasonable prospect' of surviving its insolvency

The company filed for examinership after its owner withdrew financial support.

By Aodhan O'Faolain

THERE HAVE BEEN seven expressions of interest in acquiring companies involved in publishing the Golden Pages directory and in specialist sales and marketing, the High Court has heard.

Last month the High Court appointed Neil Hughes as interim examiner to Dublin-based FCR Media Ltd, which publishes the Golden Pages directory, and related firm FCR Tech UAB.

FCR Tech UAB, incorporated in Lithuania, is the Irish-based company’s sole shareholder and holds the intellectual property rights to Golden Pages.

Both companies form part of the FCR Media group, which provides search and advertising services in 10 countries in Europe and has more than 1000 employees across its operations.

The decision to seek the protection of courts was made after FCR withdrew its interests in the Irish market, meaning that the local firms could no longer pay their debts as they fell due.

In a ruling this afternoon, Justice Michael Moriarty said that on balance he was satisfied to continue the examinership and confirm the “experienced and accredited” Hughes as examiner.

It was in the interests of all the affected parties that he confirm Hughes as examiner, the judge added.

The decision gives the firms up to 100 days to come up with an arrangement with its creditors, which, if approved by the High Court, would allow the business to continue to trade as a going concern.

The judge, who noted that time was of the essence in the examinership process, confirmed the appointment.

Well-known brands

Counsel said there were several interested parties, whose identities are confidential, and they included “well-known brands” in marketing and advertising sectors.

Hughes had prepared a report stating his belief the firms have a reasonable prospect of survival if a scheme is approved.

Counsel said the regrettably that some of the 103 workers, namely some of those in the printing side of the operation, had been made redundant.

However his client was hopeful that the majority of the jobs can be saved and new people hired in the future.

Counsel also said that his client has already met with and will continue to work with the trustees of the firms’ pension schemes during the period of examinership.

The trustees, who did not oppose the appointment of an examiner, had considerable concerns about their interests being affected by the examination process, the court heard.

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However counsel said the trustees would continue to work with Hughes.

The court also heard the Revenue Commissioners were taking a neutral position to the examinership application after assurances were given about the company’s filing of returns and the payment of taxes during the process.

The companies sought the protection of the courts because of their insolvency. Debts to creditors as were €5.5 million.

The alternative to examinership was winding up the firms with a deficit of €8.9 million liabilities over assets, counsel said.

Murphy said an independent expert had stated that the company has a reasonable prospect of survival and the forecasts for 2017 and 2018 are positive. The matter will return before the High Court later this month.

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