herald

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Former TV stars 'will work into our 70s to help clear €3.7m debt'

Musician Frank McNamara and barrister Theresa Lowe
Musician Frank McNamara and barrister Theresa Lowe

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

They are seeking a debt writedown of nearly €3m, but a fund, Tanager DAC, which acquired the debt, is opposing the application.

McNamara (59) worked as musical director on the Late Late Show for 20 years, while Lowe (56) was a TV presenter before she went 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 difficulties.

However, 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 $1.2m (€1.07m) 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.

The couple's main asset is their home in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, which they say is worth around €500,000 but on which they owe nearly €2.3m.

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

Inheritance

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 McNamara's parents' estate and the sale of five acres next to their home.

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

However, Tanager seems 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 as possible, he said.

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, 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 dates back 16 years and was not relevant to the conduct of the debtor in the two years immediately prior to the personal arrangement, he said.

He said less than 1pc 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, counsel said.

The case was adjourned for a week by Mr Justice Denis McDonald.

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