€2.5bn in IBRC loans of major firms to be sold
Loans of Arnotts, TV3, Davy, ‘Racing Post’ and Topaz to go to consortiums
A €230 million group of loans owed by Arnotts, the leading Dublin department store, is to be sold to Fitzwilliam Finance Partners Investment Ltd. Photograph: Alan Betson
KPMG, the special liquidators of IBRC, the former Anglo Irish Bank, are on the brink of selling the loans of some of the best-known names in Irish business, including Arnotts, TV3, Davy, the Racing Post and Topaz, to international and domestic consortiums.
IBRC’s special liquidator said it had accepted bids for 84 per cent of Project Evergreen, the code name for these loans, which have a face value of €2.5 billion and relate to 50 businesses or wealthy individuals.
A €230 million group of loans owed by Arnotts, the leading Dublin department store, is to be sold to Fitzwilliam Finance Partners Investment Ltd, an investment vehicle owned by Noel Smyth, and Selfridge’s, the retail group owned by Canadian billionaire Galen Weston, subject to certain conditions. When the sale completes, this will give Fitzwilliam and Selfridge’s total control of the iconic 140-year-old store after they acquired its others borrowings, a €140 million loan owed to Ulster Bank last week.
The Irish Times understands that Lone Star, the Dallas-based private equity firm led by John Grayken, has emerged as preferred bidder for “Portfolio 14”, a mixed bag of diverse loans including Fields Jewellers, Hickey’s Pharmacies and loans owed by the McEvaddy brothers, who have healthcare and aviation leasing interests.
Management at Davy has acquired its loans of €140 million. The State’s biggest stockbroker bought its loan for a minor discount of €4 million, reflecting the cost incurred in refinancing their debts with Bank of Ireland.
The €304 million loan of Topaz, the petrol station giant, is expected to be sold to a consortium led by entrepreneur Denis O’Brien at a discount. Spokesmen for O’Brien and Topaz did not return calls for comment. Mr O’Brien has previously acquired two businesses from IBRC before the bank went into liquidation – Siteserv, at a discount of €100 million, and Blue Ocean Associates, at a writedown of €64 million.
FL Partners, the Irish private equity firm, is tipped to be on the brink of buying a loan relating to the Racing Post. FL Partners bought the racing paper and online brand for €200 million in 2007. It is cash-rich after selling Sunseeker, a luxury yacht business, for €350 million.