Dispute between UCD and APC Ltd over shareholding goes to Commercial court

By Ann O'Loughlin

A dispute over whether University College Dublin is entitled to a 15% shareholding in a fast-growing company involved in developing commercial processes for global pharmaceutical giants has come before the Commercial Court.

Applied Process Company Ltd, set up in 2011, now employs more than 100 people, expects to double its workforce in the next five years and is set to achieve revenues of almost €18m by the end of this year, it was stated in court documents.

Its primary business is the development of processes enabling pharmaceutical companies to speed up the commercial development of life-saving medical advances.

APC was formed by Professor Brian Glennon and Dr Mark Barrett from UCD's School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering. Each own a 50% shareholding and they dispute UCD's claim of entitlement to a 15% shareholding.

UCD claims it had concluded an agreement with the company and the two shareholders, in return for UCD getting a 15% shareholding, APC would be established and/or approved as a "campus" company and would be permitted to participate in the Nova UCD Campus Company development programme.

APC and the two shareholders dispute that and say APC was not a campus company as it was not set up to commercialise the intellectual property of UCD.

They also say, given the affiliation both have had with UCD, and the "affection" they have for it, APC has been willing to make "very generous" contributions to the university, most recently offering to support it by some €1m over five years.

When the proceedings came before the Commercial Court today, Rossa Fanning SC, for APC and the two shareholders, said his side wanted them fast-tracked and UCD was not objecting to that.

When the judge suggested the case appeared suitable for mediation, counsel said it would want to see a detailed statement of claim before considering whether mediation was appropriate.

APC had been incorporated in 2011 but this claim had only issued almost six years later, counsel said. There was no executed agreement between UCD and the defendants and UCD's claim was "baseless and opportunistic" and arose because of the company's success, he said.

Counsel for UCD denied delay and said its position had been set out in detail for some time.

Mr Justice McGovern agreed to fast-track the proceedings, directed UCD to deliver its statement of claim next week and returned the matter to later this month for further directions.

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