Debt-Hit Dublin Pubs Seek Bankruptcy Protection

Dublin's premier pub-running company won bankruptcy protection Friday in a surprising sign that Ireland's credit crunch is pushing even the most liquid of businesses to the breaking point, the Associated Press reported. The High Court granted bankruptcy protection to the Thomas Read Group, which runs a dozen of the capital's most popular pubs and eight more at Dublin Airport. The company also runs an award-winning restaurant on the River Liffey, the Winding Stair Bookshop & Cafe, and a top Dublin nightclub, Ri Ra. Traditionally, pubs are among the most surefire businesses in Ireland's famously sociable economy, and Read-owned bars are among the most popular because of their reputation for comfort and sophisticated pub grub. But some of the most aggressively acquisitive publicans now find themselves facing demands from creditors to pay up, sometimes more quickly than originally agreed, because of the country's rapid slide into recession. Banks have greatly tightened loan conditions in the past six months. The creditors include four Irish banks, Guinness parent company Diageo and two other Irish brewers, and Ireland's tax collection agency. Read more.