Yates to move to Britain as debts mount

By Seán McCárthaigh

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ivan Yates is set to quit Newstalk and abandon his media career as he
faces bankruptcy over debts of about €3.5m.

The broadcaster and former government minister yesterday admitted his
future was “exceptionally bleak” and “full of uncertainty”, and the
Irish Examiner understands he may move to Britain to avail of less
stringent bankruptcy laws.

Neither Mr Yates nor Newstalk would confirm that he will quit his
popular Breakfast show, but his move to Britain is virtually certain
as AIB demands full payment of the debt by May 13. He is expected to
announce his resignation from Newstalk within weeks.

In Dublin yesterday, he told unsecured creditors of his failed Celtic
Bookmakers business that there was no money to pay outstanding debts
of €1.4m.

The Irish Examiner columnist, who is being charged €4,000 in weekly
interest payments by AIB, said he doubted his ability to repay the
bank within two months. He revealed there was a disagreement between
himself and AIB about the level of the debt. He claims it is €3.4m
while the bank is seeking €3.6m.

If he is unable to pay the debt, Mr Yates and his wife Deirdre risk
losing their home and farm at Blackstoops near Enniscorthy, Co
Wexford, where his mother, Mary, 80, also lives.

The ex-Fine Gael minister, who has previously indicated he was
considering moving to Wales for bankruptcy reasons, declined to reveal
his plans apart from saying he was in ongoing talks with AIB, which is
seeking control over all his assets and earnings for the next 10
years.

However, he declined to confirm or deny that he was set to quit Newstalk.

Mr Yates said he always regarded his media career — which includes a
role as a stand-in presenter on TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne — as
“transient”. “It would be folly at 52 years of age to make promises
about future income I might not be able to honour,” he said.

He said AIB was “very ruthless” and claimed it was “to date impossible
to negotiate with the bank”.

Eight creditors including five landlords of his betting shops attended
yesterday’s meeting, which saw a liquidator appointed to Celtic
Bookmakers.

Mr Yates said the sale of 31 of 47 outlets in his betting shop chain
had raised about €3m, out of which almost €500,000 went on legal and
receivership costs.

He said he has not had control of the business since Jan 2011, when it
was put into receivership. He blamed the collapse of the firm he had
run since 1987 on a 50% downturn in retail betting and a move towards
online gambling as well as less disposable income among consumers,
despite reducing the chain’s annual costs from €17m to €11m.

Mr Yates said he was one of the firm’s largest creditors as he was
owed €160,988. Both Mr Yates and his wife each paid themselves an
annual salary of €25,992. However, he said he had not taken any
director’s remuneration or bonus from the company since 2008.

Newstalk managing director Frank Cronin said he was in constant
communication with Mr Yates about his role in the station but that it
remained “a private conversation”.

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