Businessman wins back control of companies as Cerberus case settled

Gareth Graham reached an out of court settlement with Cerberus
Gareth Graham reached an out of court settlement with Cerberus

Belfast businessman Gareth Graham is to regain control of companies as part of the settlement reached in his legal battle with US investment fund Cerberus, it has been confirmed.

The High Court was told applications to put development firms STH 500 and Lehill Properties into administration are to be withdrawn.

Confirmation came as a judge was informed that a confidential resolution has been reached in the action.

Mr Graham had been locked in a legal fight with Cerberus over the right to appoint receivers and administrators to his companies which own commercial and residential premises in Belfast.

The firms’ loans were among those transferred over to Nama, the Irish government’s so-called ‘bad bank’.

In 2014 Cerberus snapped up Nama’s entire Northern Ireland portfolio, Project Eagle, in a deal worth more than £1 billion.

Mr Graham had been challenging the fund’s right to put his companies into administration, claiming the businesses were financially strong and never missed a repayment.

The court case was put back to May to allow attempts at mediation.

But in a surprise development last week it emerged that an out of court settlement had been reached.

Mr Graham took out advertisements in three newspapers to confirm the resolution and to express regret at any harm caused to the Cerberus brand by the litigation.

In a statement the businessman said it was no longer possible to maintain his complaints about the fund, adding that he wanted to distance himself from “grave and serious allegations”.

He also said that he had agreed to meet Cerberus’ legal costs.

In court on Monday lawyers disclosed little more as they formally announced the end to the proceedings.

But counsel for Cerberus did set out that two applications to appoint administrators to the companies were to be withdrawn.

He stressed: “The terms of the settlement are entirely confidential between the parties.”

After studying the papers, Mr Justice Horner agreed to make a court order in the terms requested.