EY awards: Green’s Stephen Vernon wins Industry Entrepreneur of the Year

Property veteran leads group which recently sold Blanchardstown shopping centre

EY Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016, Stephen Vernon of Green Propertyat the awards. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

EY Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016, Stephen Vernon of Green Propertyat the awards. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Property veteran Stephen Vernon, chairman of Green Property and director of Green Reit, was last night named EY Industry Entrepreneur of the Year.

The real estate investor and developer has been chairman of all the companies trading as Green Property since 2002. Prior to this he was managing director of Green Property plc, which, under his leadership, grew its market capitalisation from €9 million in 1993 to €1 billion in 2002, when he led a leveraged buyout of the company in a transaction worth €1.85 billion.

“I didn’t really expect to be in this or to win the category because while the entrepreneurial thing is there in real estate it’s perhaps not as obvious as in other industries,” said Mr Vernon.

“I’m delighted to have won the award, which is hugely important in terms of the branding of Green.

Green Property’s trophy asset, the Blanchardstown Centre, was recently sold to US investor Blackstone for about €950 million, thereby ending Mr Vernon’s 23-year involvement with the property.

Green Reit, which is led by Mr Vernon and Pat Gunne, was the first real estate investment trust listed in Ireland. It currently has a market capitalisation of close to €1 billion and owns more than €1.2 billion worth of commercial property with an annual rent roll of €65 million.

“We selected Stephen because of his outstanding ability to read the market and identify significant business opportunities. He also displayed a distinct entrepreneurial spirit and adopted a strategic and innovative approach to secure his success,” said James Finch, of Invest Northern Ireland, one of this year’s judges. “His success is best illustrated in the performance of the business and the outstanding returns he has achieved.”

The other finalists in the industry category this year were: Dr Suresh Tharma and Ashok Songra of 3fivetwo Group; Jim Wright of JMW Farms; James Leckey of Leckey; Gareth Loye of M&M Contractors; Leslie Codd of Codd Mushrooms; Colin Culliton of TPI Group; and Eamon Donnelly of Uform.