Renewable energy firms with more than 100 employees to be wound up

Ann O'Loughlin

Provisional liquidators have been appointed by the High Court to two Irish companies involved in the renewable energy sector that employs more than 100 people.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello said she was satisfied to appoint Michael McAteer and Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton as joint provisional liquidators to the Dublin based OpenHydro Group Ltd and its subsidiary Open Hydro Technologies Ltd after being told both companies were "seriously insolvent" with debts of approximately €280m.

The court agreed to the appointments after being told that OpenHydro 's French parent, which had invested €260m in the firms, were no longer prepared to support the enterprises because the companies were loss-making.

The application to wind up the companies was made by Naval Energies, which the High Court heard is the largest shareholder and creditor of the OpenHydro Group, which are involved in activities including the development of turbines which generate power from tidal energy.

Rossa Fanning SC for Naval, which is part of the French marine engineering group of companies, said that on top of what the parent had already invested in the Irish group it was projected that Openhydro would make further loses of €128m between now and 2026.

Counsel said that 2017 had been a particularly challenging year for the group.

During that period the group, which has operations in Ireland, Scotland, Canada and Japan had sustained approximately €160m in losses.

The OpenHydro Group of companies needed €1m a week to survive. Naval Energies counsel said had acquired the company in 2013 from those who established it in 2006.

Given the predictions about the group's future income and expenditure the parent firm was not prepared to advance any more money that would allow it continue to operate, counsel said.

In the circumstances counsel said that it was appropriate, given the complex structure of the group that liquidators be appointed by the court in order to secure the assets worth in excess of €80m.

Counsel said another factor supporting the application was that his client has received a communication from the group's senior management which indicated that there had been a breakdown in relations between them and the board of directors.

Counsel said that the group was not opposing the application to be wound up.

Ms Justice Costello after appointing Mr Tennant and Mr McAteer adjourned the matter to a date in August.

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