Former Heinz CEO Anthony J.F. O Reilly declares bankruptcy

Former H.J. Heinz Co. chief executive officer Anthony J.F. O’Reilly

Former H.J. Heinz Co. chief executive officer Anthony J.F. O’Reilly has been declared bankrupt by a court in the Bahamas, which clears the way to file for an insolvency arrangement, according to the Irish Times newspaper.

Although creditor Allied Irish Bank objected in a legal hearing Friday, saying the court didn’t have jurisdiction, the ruling allows Mr. O’Reilly to seek out a formal deal with creditors, the paper said.

Mr. O’Reilly, who left the Heinz CEO role in 1998 but remained as chairman until 2000, was first reported to be considering bankruptcy in 2014. He owed millions to several banks, taking major hits to his finances through investments in news and crystal-making operations.

According to the Irish Times, Mr. O’Reilly has already begun selling assets to satisfy creditors, including selling his 750-acre estate called Castlemartin.

A former Irish rugby star who served as the first non-U.S. born leader of Heinz and was later knighted by Queen Elizabeth, Mr. O’Reilly’s name may be most familiar to Pittsburghers through the O’Reilly Theater in the Cultural District. According to a Post-Gazette report in 1999, Heinz executives and Mr. O’Reilly’s wife contributed funds to get his name on the theater.

Although further legal action could be possible, the Irish Times said, Friday’s ruling appears to open a path for Mr. O’Reilly to work out a personal insolvency arrangement that could resolve the outstanding debts.

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