McInerney Hldgs Gets Court Protection To Restructure, In Talks With Oaktree

(Reuters) – Indebted homebuilder McInerney Holdings (MCI.I) said its main Irish unit had got court protection to restructure, a day after regional carrier Aer Arann also entered examinership.

McInerney, which has been in debt talks for months, said it presented a petition to a Dublin court on Thursday seeking time to negotiate a restructuring of its debts and new equity investment for the group.

Its UK interests and Spanish division were unaffected by the move, McInerney said.

The builder, suffering from a property crash that has almost halved house prices and brought some of the biggest banks to their knees, said it was in talks with U.S.-based private equity firm Oaktree Capital [OAKCP.UL] over a 40 million euro ($50.84 million) investment.

Earlier this month McInerney, which had net debt of 236 million euros at the end of 2009, said a “leading international equity partner” had been conducting due diligence over the last two months.

“The appointment of an examiner is reflective of the state of the Irish construction sector,” Barry Dixon, analyst at Davy Stockbrokers wrote in a note.

Barely out of the euro zone’s deepest recession, Irish companies have had to increasingly rely on courts appointing examiners to help them keep trading while restructuring or seeking fresh investment.

Dublin-based Aer Arann, which has a deal to run most of the domestic flights of former flag carrier Aer Lingus (AERL.I), said late on Thursday that it had entered examinership and that a number of investors had expressed interest in its business.

Aer Lingus, which was also burning through cash until it began to aggressively cut unprofitable U.S. routes, reduce staff and fuel costs, said the franchise agreement with Aer Arann was unaffected by the appointment of an examiner.

While privately owned Aer Arann blamed its need to restructure on disruption caused by a volcanic ash cloud earlier this year, ferry operator Irish Continental (ICG_u.I) said on Friday that airspace closure helped its passenger numbers rise by 12 percent in the first half of the year. [ID:nWLA1664])

($1=.7867 Euro)

(Editing by Andras Gergely; Editing by Erica Billingham)