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Sunday Times: Shell in wrangle over Irish sale

Brian Carey
JOHN SWEENEY, the west of Ireland oil distributor and shareholder in the Shelbourne Hotel, is to join the American firm Mandraki Associates in seeking substantial compensation from Shell arising from complaints over the sale of its retail and distribution business in Ireland.
Sweeney and Mandraki bid unsuccessfully for Irish Shell, which includes six oil import facilities, 35 distribution depots and 55 filling stations. They claim that the sale process, which is now the subject of a High Court action, was unfair.
Topaz Energy, a buyout backed by Ion Equity, purchased the retail and distribution assets for an estimated €180m last July, but the deal only closed over a month ago.
It is believed that Sweeney and Mandraki are unhappy about the access it received to certain financial information during the sale. Mandraki has written to the company seeking the repayment of its bid costs of €1.5m and unspecified compensation. It has also sought for the bid to be rerun.
Shell this weekend confirmed that the sale process was now the subject of a legal challenge, but would not identify the party or parties suing.
“We conducted the sale of our Irish retail and commercial marketing and distribution businesses fairly and in accordance with normal market practices,” the company said in a statement. “We confirm that a legal challenge has commenced against Shell in relation to the sale process and that we intend to defend this challenge vigorously.”
Sweeney, 45, is the son of a Clifden publican and one of the largest distributors west of the Shannon. He owns the Station House Hotel in Clifden and the Johnstown House Hotel and Spa in Co Meath.

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