Petroceltic staff and chief executive fight examinership plans

The outcome of this move could have implications for future examinerships in Ireland

Just over 30 employees of the oil exploration company, Petroceltic, including its chief executive, Briain O’ Cathain, have voted against examinership proposals to rescue the firm in a landmark move that could have an impact on other examinerships.

Publicly-quoted Petroceltic has been at the centre of a long-running ownership struggle with its largest shareholder, the Swiss-based but Russian-controlled investment fund, Worldview Capital, which is set to take control of the firm through the examinership process.

At issue for many of the staff is a pot of about €4m which can be triggered by a change of control at the firm and which would be almost wiped out under the examinership proposals.

Staff, represented by lawyers William Fry, claim this is a future, rather than a past liability for the company and that it therefore cannot be reduced under examinership legislation.

The issue has never been tested since that legislation was introduced in 1990.