Former Late Late Show musical director and wife seek €3m debt write-down

Frank McNamara. Pic via Twitter

Musician Frank McNamara and his wife, barrister Theresa Lowe, are seeking High Court approval for a personal insolvency arrangement to assist them in dealing with debts of €3.7m.

They are looking to get a debt write-down of nearly €3m but a fund, Tanager DAC, which acquired the debt, is opposing the application.

Mr McNamara (aged 59) worked as musical director on the Late Late Show for 20 years while Ms Lowe (aged 56), was a TV presenter before she going on to qualify as a barrister.

They say that because they are self-employed people they will be able to continue working beyond the age of 70.

The court heard they remortgaged and sold properties in an attempt to escape what they saw as temporary financial difficulties.

However, Mr McNamara, who said he had been working in the US earning a high income, believed he would be able to create enough income to work out their debts.

He says he is owed some US$1.2m in royalties for his work. Tanager says that is a 16-year-old debt to him which has nothing to do with his current situation.

Their main asset is their home in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, which they say is worth around half a million but on which they owed almost €2.3m.

Under the arrangement being proposed, they would continue to pay a mortgage of €550,000 on their home from a total income of €5,600 per month. They have two dependent children.

A lump sum payment of €100,000 would also be made along with a promise of €30,000 from a life insurance policy when it matures in seven years.

The money will come from a €181,000 inheritance from Mr McNamara’s parents’ estate and also from the sale of five acres next to their home.

Keith Farry BL, for the couple, said creditors, under the personal arrangement, would fare better than in a bankruptcy.

"However, Tanager seem to want bankruptcy and was not interested in long-term structuring of debts," he said.

Tanager's strategy is to realise the debt in as short a period of time as possible. Tanager don’t do forbearance.

They had continued to make payments off their debt and would continue to do so under the arrangement, he said. This arrangement would ensure a return to solvency for the couple and at the same time return more to the creditors than under bankruptcy, he said.

Rudi Neuman Shanahan BL, for Tanager, said there was a lack of explanation in relation to questions raised by Tanager about their debts.

The unpaid royalties from the US claim date back 16 years and were not relevant to the conduct of the debtor in the two years immediately prior to the personal arrangement, he said.

Counsel also said less than 1% of creditors voted in favour of the personal insolvency arrangement.

The couple would be 75 and 78 by the time this arrangement comes to an end and despite saying they could work beyond normal retirement age, that would be sufficient reason for objecting to it, counsel said.

The case was adjourned for a week by Mr Justice Denis McDonald for continuing submissions. The couple were not in court.

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