Sunday 28 June 2009

Big four: how the downturn has hit the country's leading developers

The Longford native has a 40% stake in Castlethorn Construction, one of the largest developers in the state, whose assets include the Dundrum Town Centre and a site earmarked for an expansion of it. It is also behind the Adamstown development near Lucan and has plans for a major development at Woodbrook in Shankill. The remainder of the company is owned by the family of the late Liam Maye and builder John Fitzsimons.

Castlethorn's auditors, BDO Simpson Xavier, recently said there was uncertainty over the precise carrying value of Castlethorn's assets because of economic developments. Castlethorn's accounts were not qualified. Accounts for the Woodbrook site and a site at Shanganagh show a shareholders' deficit of more than €17m on 30 June 2007, up from less than €500,000 the previous year. During the year Castlethorn provided management services worth more than €5.9m to the company.

O'Reilly formed Chartered Land in recent years for his own developments. Since setting it up, he acquired part of the Pavilions in Swords and an adjacent site which he is planning to develop as well as a 50% of the Ilac Centre in Dublin city centre. He is also planning to develop the €1bn Dublin Central retail-led scheme at O'Connell Street. Chartered is also involved in a €300m office, leisure and retail scheme at Grand Canal Dock. O'Reilly developed a €110m retail centre on South King Street perpendicular to Grafton Street but sold 90% of it to an Anglo Irish Bank private equity fund. Neil Callanan

Seán Dunne

The Carlow-born developer has substantial property interests in Dublin 4, including the former Jurys Doyle and Berkeley Court hotels, which he bought for nearly €380m and now runs as D4 Hotels after planning permission for a major redevelopment of the seven-acre site was refused by An Bord Pleanála.

Dunne also owns an office building called Hume House, over which he is involved in a legal case with property advisers CBRE, and the Donnybrook Mall which he is planning to redevelop. He owns offices and land at AIB's headquarters in Ballsbridge and land in Rathfarnham.

Dunne owns a large number of companies, one of which, DCD Builders, had an emphasis of matter inserted in its accounts for the year ended 31 July 2007 by KPMG, which said the financial statements had been "prepared on a going concern basis, the validity of which depends on continuing financial support, which will enable the group and company to realise amounts for its property-related assets in excess of their carrying value".

During the year it made a loss of more than €14.5m, reducing shareholders' funds to just under €27.7m. Net debt stood at more than €418m at the end of the financial year.

A regular in Doheny & Nesbitt's pub at Baggot Street in Dublin 2, Dunne is one of the few developers who will be largely unaffected by the introduction of the National Asset Management Agency, as most of his borrowings were done with Ulster Bank, which is owned by RBS and is therefore covered by the British government's asset-protection scheme.

Paddy Kelly

Kelly told the Commercial Court in March he was thinking of entering bankruptcy proceedings as his liabilities exceeded his assets.

Kelly's relationship with the banks has become increasingly fraught. In a recent interview he launched a ferocious attack on them, saying: "The banks are being bailed out and they are putting the boot in left, right and centre. They're not lending and they are getting away with telling lies." Kelly claimed he was hounded by the banks during the boom years and is now being hounded for different reasons.

Several judgements have been registered against Kelly that could remove him from the property game permanently. Anglo Irish, a key lender to Kelly, has stopped the developer availing of some credit facilities, but it is understood the bank recently extended additional credit lines to the developer .

Recently Kelly and his son Simon had a €2m judgment entered against them by Investec, the South African bank. In May ACC secured orders against Kelly and his three children requiring them to pay €16m arising from guarantees over property. A stay has been placed on the execution of this judgement. Kelly previously accepted a judgment for €6.1m against him personally over failure to repay other loans advanced by ACC. The €6.1m judgment related to several loans advanced by ACC, including a €4.8m loan relating to the construction of 62 hotel units at the Clarion Hotel, near Blanchardstown in Dublin. Emmet Oliver

Bernard McNamara

Clare man McNamara has been a less frequent visitor to the courts in the past six months than either Carroll or Kelly. His chief company, Michael McNamara and Company, has unlimited status so it does not have to disclose its financial position publicly. However McNamara is likely to be seriously under water in terms of the valuation of his Burlington Hotel site, although he has sought to have the site rezoned.

McNamara, a resident of Ailesbury Road, was once believed to be worth almost €240m, but his wealth will have shrunk massively in the downturn.

The developer, a significant borrower with Anglo Irish Bank, is still getting support from that institution and Bank of Ireland, according to accounts for his companies. But in a reflection of straitened times for developers, McNamara's companies have been hit with a litany of "emphasis of matter" warnings by their own auditors.

One firm, Hannamie, recently said directors were having difficulty verifying the carrying value of property-related assets in the context of "current market conditions". Another key McNamara project, the South Wharf site at Poolbeg, is also likely to have plummeted in value. Anglo Irish recently took additional security on its €293m loan to Becbay, the company owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, McNamara and Derek Quinlan, which paid €411m for the site.

McNamara was a member of the Léargas consortium that was scheduled to build Thornton Hall prison, but the government said the price quoted was prohibitive and it is to be re-tendered. McNamara's group said they had put three years of "work and expense" into the project.

Sunday Tribune

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