Court confirms appointment of examiner to Bradley Pharmacy group

By Aodhan O'Faolain

The High Court has confirmed the appointment of an examiner to the Bradley Pharmacy Group, which has debts of approximately €24m.

Mr Ken Tyrell of PWC was confirmed as examiner to the various companies in the group, which employs 139 people and operates several pharmacies in counties Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Dublin, Wicklow and Kerry, by Mr Justice Denis McDonald on Monday.

The Judge said there were no objections by any creditors to Mr Tyrell's confirmation, who now has 100 days to come up with an arrangement to ensure the group's survival, and that there had been several expressions of interest in the group by potential investors.

However, the Judge said there was a failure to disclose relevant matters and a lack of candour shown by Mr Brian Pagni, who is a director of the companies within the group, to the court when the group applied for Mr Tyrell's appointment as the examiner.

Lawyers for Bank of Ireland, the group's former supplier United Drug, Revenue and a landlord of one of the group's pharmacies had expressed their serious concerns about how the group had been run particularly in the period before it sought the protection of the court.

In particular, the Judge said there was a failure to disclose the full amount of money paid out of the group to Mr Pagni as repayments on a loan he had advanced to the business.

The Judge said group management accounts furnished to Bank Of Ireland, the group's biggest creditor, in July stated there had been €2.9m outstanding on the director's loan.

However, an independent Expert's report furnished to the court as part of the application to have an examiner appointed recorded the amount outstanding on the director's loans as being €2m.

The Judge said these monies had been paid to Mr Pagni at a time when the businesses within the group were experiencing difficulties.

The Judge also said there had been a failure to disclose all matters to the court concerning United Drug and the landlord of one of the pharmacies in the group Leonard & Woods Development Limited.

The Judge said he was not satisfied with Mr Pagni's explanations of what was alleged and said there is a duty on persons to fully disclose all relevant matters when seeking orders including the protection of the courts from their creditors.

However, given the expressions of interest and the number of jobs involved the Judge said he was prepared to allow the examinership proceed.

The Judge said the examiner, when putting together a scheme of arrangement with the creditor's, will have to consider what future role Mr Pagni will play in the management of the group.

The Judge welcomed that Mr Tyrell would investigate the matters of concern raised by the creditors at Monday's hearing.

Earlier this month Mr Tyrell of PW was appointed as the interim examiner to a group of related companies which form the Bradley Pharmacy Group.

The court heard that the companies in the group are insolvent and unable to pay their debts.

However, an Independent Expert's Report furnished to the court stated the group has a reasonable prospect of survival if certain steps are taken.

The steps include restructuring the groups banking debts, securing fresh investment and the examiner securing approval for a scheme of arrangement with the group's creditors.

The group sought the protection of the courts due to factors including a historical debt owed to Bank of Ireland.

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