Do you live in an apartment owned by Liam Carroll's Zoe Group? Chances are you're paying nearly 50% more rent than the company expected to earn from the units when it was letting them out on six- and 12-month leases. The 641 residential lettings are generating annual income of €10.4m – €3m more than envisaged by the business plan.
We'll find out in eight days' time if the business plan drawn up by Zoe, which included the lettings and sales, is judged by the High Court to be worthy enough to allow the appointment of an examiner. As Mr Justice Frank Clarke said last week: "It's better to get it right slowly than get it wrong quickly."
Even if he decides to appoint an examiner to the seven companies which have petitioned, we could be back in court quickly anyway as ACC has signalled that it is likely to take a Supreme Court case about whether or not this, the second examinership petition, should have been allowed in the first place.
"I'm one of the few people whose eyes don't glaze over when it comes to numbers," said Mr Justice Clarke last week and he proved it, teasing out numbers that barrister Michael Cush, for Carroll's companies, tends to speed read.
This is the fourth hearing in relation to the examinership and only last week did we discover that the Zoe Group has undrawn facilities of just under €63m from nationalised Anglo Irish Bank in relation to its headquarters building on North Wall Quay, where it will pay €8m a year rent if it still exists, albeit the annual rent will not be paid before 2011. A further €8m will be provided by the bank for cladding, all of which is subject to the bank building being given the thumbs-up by An Bord Pleanála.
The government has also helped the developer's business plan by buying social and affordable housing from him through the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.
Further details of the additional bank facilities provided by AIB and Bank of Scotland Ireland, first revealed by the Sunday Tribune earlier this year, also emerged. Between them, they provided more than €80m to the Zoe Group alone, with a further facility of €16.6m available in relation to BoSI's building in Cherrywood, which is under construction.
After prompting from Clarke, it emerged that those facilities were provided after Carroll and his wife gave €34m in personal guarantees – €10m in relation to Zoe and €24m in relation to the separate Dunloe Ewart group – to allow the creditors be paid off.
Those figures are significant because earlier this year the Carrolls told the High Court that their assets total €259.5m, his bank debt stands at €149m and that he receives annual rental income of €9.85m while paying annual interest of €7.9m.
Liam Carroll is being pursued for €60m in personal guarantees from Irish Nationwide – he says the real figure is €30m – and is personally named in a €150m damages case taken by Noel Smyth in relation to The Square in Tallaght, raising issues about his personal solvency if the Zoe Group goes under.
Independent accountant David Wilkinson of KPMG had raised the possibility of a writedown of debt in the future and Cush, for Carroll, said that a 10% writedown would make a huge difference to the group. That would not please BoSI, which made it clear that it would "not countenance" a writedown of its debts. Bill Shipsey, for Carroll, said that Zoe's directors "don't advocate and will not advocate any writedown of BoSI's debts".
Cush said the choice of companies that form part of the examinership process "was dictated by urgency. These were the companies that were the subject of attack by ACC, with the exception of Royceton." It was a point raised by Lyndon MacCann, for ACC.
"There's been no explanation as to why Royceton was included," he said.
He pointed out that Royceton has €126m of trade debtors and there was no narrative in relation to that and explanation of the security deposits of €130m in the accounts. "I don't think I've ever seen a situation where so little evidence has been provided in terms of the survival prospects of an individual company," he said.
MacCann also said that if Nama comes into effect, many of the loans would be transferred to them. There isn't a "scintilla of evidence" in relation to what Nama will do after it acquires them, he pointed out, and the other banks will not be the ones extending the moratorium on interest payments on the group's €1.2bn debt. About €800m of the group's borrowings are variable with the remainder on fixed interest rates. Every time interest rates increase 0.5%, the group's interest bill climbs by €40m.
The group also said that it would likely take on more than 620 people, either directly or indirectly, mainly dependent on whether the North Wall Quay office blocks are given the go-ahead. Significantly, Cush said there's been "no indication of the softening of intent to take up the lease". There's also an agreement in place with another tenant on a neighbouring building.
MacCann pointed out that "the examinership process is not allowed to be used for the benefit of the creditor" under the legislation, and described Zoe's business plan as a "delayed receivership" because at the end of the three year-period "we still end up with an exposure that has to be immediately repaid".
ACC won't be allowing further delay and would demand to have the facilities repaid at that stage, he said. In addition, the lack of information on Nama is a "major lacuna" in terms of future funding of the group. "The business plan is inherently flawed because it just proposes a moratorium," he said.
Mr Justice Clarke has signalled that the issue of interest roll-ups will form a key part of his decision.
"One of the questions I have to ask is what chance of survival does this company have when it comes out of the incubator. Will the interest roll-ups last much longer than 2011?" Carroll will be praying that his main bankers' forbearance will continue.