‘It’s Impossible For You Or I To Ascertain What Exactly That Means’

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Simon Harris TD (top ) and IBRC minutes

You may recall the IBRC board meeting minutes that were published by the Department of Finance last night.

They were from a March 15, 2012 meeting – the day the Siteserv sale to Denis O’Brien’s acquisition vehicle Millington was approved.

This morning, Fine Gael TD Simon Harris spoke to Audrey Carville on Morning Ireland and they  talked about a section of the minutes which appears to suggest there was a write-off of €119 million as opposed to the previously known figure of €100 million.

Audrey Carville: “In relation to those minutes from that meeting, which approved the sale of Siteserv it goes through that, ‘Following consideration, the board approved the proposal, to proceed with the sale of Siteserv, €48million, net proceeds for the bank €44.3million – a write-off of the balance of facilities of €119million, following the sale. However noting that this was around €10million in excess of the current impairment provision.’ What does that last bit mean? Because I think most people thought the write-off of the debt was around €100m?”

Simon Harris: “It’s impossible for you or I to ascertain this morning what exactly that means…”

Carville: “Is that new information to you?”

Harris: “I’ve seen, I’ve seen a number of figures in the public domain – in and around the €110 million mark. That obviously says €119 million. The reality is that we now have a structure in place to examine in a forensic manner all of those transactions and remember the bottom line here is, was the decision taken in relation to that transaction and any other transaction of concern done in a manner to minimise the loss to the taxpayer or indeed to maximise the return to the taxpayer.”

Carville: “So, you don’t know what that means? €119 million with around €10million in excess of the current impairment…”

Harris:It’s not possible for me or you, or indeed anyone else sitting here today to know that figure and it will be the job of the Commission to interrogate that and other transactions.”

Carville: “Ok, but those minutes have been in the  Department of Finance for many, many months, well over, how many years now? Two years now at this stage. So why were we continuously told that it was around €100 million of a write-off?”

Harris: “I’ve seen figures saying that it was around €110 million, also Audrey…”

Carville: “But why wasn’t that clarified? If the minutes were in the Department?”

Harris: “Those minutes, in the Department, as I’ve said already and the minister has clarified already on a number of occasions were misplaced. It’s important to say that they were copies of minutes that were held in IBRC, now a full copy of those minutes back in the Department of Finance that will be available to the Commission of Investigation.”

Carville: “But it all leads to a perception that information is being kept secret.”

Harris: “Well I don’t think so at all.”

Listen back here

Meanwhile

As you may know the minutes show former IBRC senior executive Richard Woodhouse – who managed Denis O’Brien’s loans with IBRC – was present at the March 15 meeting and discussed the sale.

This appears to contradict former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes who, during a press conference on April 24 of this year, said Mr Woodhouse “was kept out of discussions over the Siteserv deal within IBRC, as he also managed the relationship between the bank and Mr O’Brien.”

Further to this, readers may wish to note that in the redacted judgement, in the cases involving RTE versus Denis O’Brien and RTE versus IBRC, issued by High Court judge Donald Binchy yesterday, there is mention of Mr Woodhouse.

The judgement says RTE journalist David Murphy intended to report how Denis O’Brien spoke with Mr Woodhouse – who was also primarily responsible for managing the Quinn Group and pursuing the Quinn family over loans during his time at IBRC – and CEO of IBRC Mike Aynsley about extending the repayment of his loan facilities.

From the judgement:

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.54.40

In addition, the minutes mention that:

“Following a query, Mr Woodhouse further outlined the role which was undertaken by Mr Dix as a director of Siteserve plc. during this process with it being noted that he also served as a director of Quinn ROI. It was noted that the appointment to the Board of Quinn ROI had previously been approved by the Nomination and Governance Committee during 2011.”

What was the query and why was the Quinn Group mentioned in discussions about the sale of Siteserv?

Anyone?

Listen back to Morning Ireland interview in full here

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32 thoughts on “‘It’s Impossible For You Or I To Ascertain What Exactly That Means’

  1. BenTen

    That fella on the radio this morning, jesus, some painful self-pleasurer to listen to.

  2. Starina

    harris: *sweating* “now let the smart people work this out, honey. it’s too sophisticated for plebs.”

  3. DF

    The O’Brien Siteserv deal was detailed in a celebratory piece on the front page of the Sunday Independent Business section on 11th of March 2012 (see below). How could the Minister for Finance not be aware of the deal before it concluded during the following week? Does he or his staff not read the Sunday papers?

    O’Brien out front in bid to buy €50m-valued Siteserv

    Author – TOM LYONS

    DENIS O’Brien, the billionaire entrepreneur, has emerged as the front-runner to buy Siteserv, the stock exchange-listed BSkyB support services to scaffolding and infrastructure business.
    A group involving Mr O’Brien has tabled a bid of over €50m for the business, which win effectively wipe out the company’s shareholders. State-owned IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, is also expected to have to write off a substantial part of the firm’s bank debt of about €150m when the sale is completed.
    The exact terms of the proposed transaction are not known. Davy, the Dublin stockbroker, and KPMG, the accountants, are handling the sale of the business, which has received bids from trade players and private equity investors. Siteserv employs 2,000 people in Ireland and Britain, but saw its revenues plunge from over €150m during the boom to €92m last year.
    The business, if it could shrug off some of its huge debts, has good prospects. It turned in an operating profit of €4.8m for the six months to the end of October 2011.
    A key part of its business is a three-year support services deal with BSkyB in Ireland worth €60m.
    Mr O’Brien is a longstanding client of IBRC but his exact exposure to the state owned bank is not known.

    1. nellyb

      “if it could shrug off (!) some of its huge debts, has good prospects” – shrugged off to WHOM?
      Everybody would have good prospects if a huge debt could be shrugged off.
      Some logic….

  4. Joxer

    it will all come tumbling down this feckin house of cards they have built. but i see little or no change emanating from these revelations. [Redacted] will sail on merrily and in a few years time IW will be sold to [Redacted] and then he will sell it onto one of the Wall street entities – Sachs or Morgan or other pit of greed

  5. gallantman

    I’d like to rewatch the Prime Time slot where that guy who brokered the deal, William something??, went through all the figures. He spoke really unequivocally and would be interesting to see if the figures he stated all match up with these ones.

  6. Just sayin'

    Woodhouse was only present for agenda items 1-4. Was Siteserv not under agenda item 5, as he closes the meeting straight after? I’m only seeing what BS choose to put up on the site – am I wrong?

  7. Barabajaggal

    Turn back before it’s too late Simon. We know there’s good in most young impressionable politicians

  8. Anne

    Impairment provisions,
    i.e. provisions (allowances) for impairment (losses) (by the state in this case) for debt write- off up to certain amounts, and the debt write off involved here was in excess of that amount by 10 million.

    Per the minutes dated March 15th, it is stated the debt write down was 119 million.
    Also stated in the minutes, is that this is in approximately 10 million over the allowable debt write-off as such or impairment provision. The provisions coming from YOU and ME.

    Here’s a little on it –
    “Loan impairment – allowance and provision for losses
    Specific provisions are made when, in the judgement of management, the recovery of the outstanding balance is in serious doubt. The amount of the specific provision is intended to cover the difference between the balance outstanding on the loan or advance and the estimated recoverable amount. In certain portfolios, provisions are applied to pools of loans on a formula driven basis depending on levels of delinquency

  9. Anne

    This doesn’t seem to hold up to what Michael Noonan said also, in terms of –

    “Ms Murphy asked Mr Noonan to indicate to her the precise financial thresholds under the framework which would have “triggered mandatory consultation in advance of a transaction and/or disposal”.

    In a reply on February 26 last, Minister Noonan confirmed to Ms Murphy that the bank would consult with the minister in relation to “any transaction which resulted in an adverse impact on total regulatory capital of the bank of greater than €100million would require interaction between the minister and the IBRC”.

    Further to this, Ms Murphy then asked, if that was the protocol, why wasn’t Minister Noonan involved in discussions with IBRC, regarding the Siteserv sale.

    In a reply received last night, Minister Noonan stated that the protocol only came into effect on March 29, 2012 – 14 days after the Siteserv sale was completed.”

    The minutes of the meeting were March 15th. Baldy advised the protocol only came into effect on March 29.

    To which Catherine Murphy response was –
    “I’m not surprised by the replies which confirm what I, and others, have long suspected – that the background to this deal and the eventual awarding of the metering contract is mired in convenient circumstances that all amount to something which leaves a very bad taste in the mouth of most right minded citizens.”

  10. Anne

    In a reply received last night, Minister Noonan stated that the protocol only came into effect on March 29, 2012 – 14 days after the Siteserv sale was completed.

    It looks to me like there were protocols in place already (minutes dated March 15) , for debt write- off in the amounts of 119 – minus (the excess of) 10 million.

  11. Anne

    Can anyone confirm that impairment provision, is the amount allocated for the debt write-down and there were limits in place (mention of the excess amount) per the minutes of the meeting?

    Loan impairment – allowance and provision for losses
    Specific provisions are made when, in the judgement of management, the recovery of the outstanding balance is in serious doubt. The amount of the specific provision is intended to cover the difference between the balance outstanding on the loan or advance and the estimated recoverable amount. In certain portfolios, provisions are applied to pools of loans on a formula driven basis depending on levels of delinquency

  12. Anne

    “Ms Murphy asked Mr Noonan to indicate to her the precise financial thresholds under the framework which would have “triggered mandatory consultation in advance of a transaction and/or disposal”.

    Further to this, Ms Murphy then asked, if that was the protocol, why wasn’t Minister Noonan involved in discussions with IBRC, regarding the Siteserv sale.

    In a reply received last night, Minister Noonan stated that the protocol only came into effect on March 29, 2012 – 14 days after the Siteserv sale was completed.”

    “€10million in excess of the current impairment provision”

    Anyone?

    Annnnyyonnnne.
    10 million in excess of the financial thresholds – ‘provision

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