Hammerson nears Dundrum Town Centre takeover

Agreement would follow months of talks on deal with Chartered Land

A number of staff in Dundrum Town Centre received an email in recent days saying their employment would transfer to Hammerson Group Management Ltd. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A number of staff in Dundrum Town Centre received an email in recent days saying their employment would transfer to Hammerson Group Management Ltd. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

UK property group Hammerson and partners, German insurer Allianz, are in the final stages of talks to take equity control of the Dundrum Town Centre.

The partners, which paid €1.85 billion last year for a portfolio of National Asset Management Agency loans to developer Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land, have said they aimed to complete a consensual deal to take control of the underlying assets this summer.

The portfolio, known as Project Jewel, also included loans attached to 50 per cent stakes in the Ilac Centre in central Dublin and the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Swords.

The Irish Times has learned that a number of staff in the Dundrum centre received an email in recent days saying their employment would transfer to Hammerson Group Management Ltd next Monday. However, sources said that while negotiations on the debt-for-equity swap deal were advanced, they would not be completed by then.

A spokesman for Hammerson and a spokeswoman for Chartered Land declined to comment.

Under the terms of their joint-venture agreement, Hammerson and Allianz plan to share ownership of the Dundrum Town Centre and a neighbouring six-acre site that is earmarked for redevelopment. Hammerson would manage the assets.

It would also see the UK-listed group take control of the other shopping centre stakes and a Dublin central development site.

It is not yet clear what role, if any, Mr O’Reilly or Chartered Land may play in the future of the assets. However, it is anticipated that he would retain some involvement, having recently applied to Dublin City Council for a seven-year extension to existing planning permission on a site stretching from the former Carlton cinema on O’Connell Street to Moore Street.

Construction on the development, which at one stage was estimated to have a gross value of €1.25 billion, has not started and the existing planning approval, granted in 2010, is due to expire next year.

The extension is seen as likely to be granted by the council, despite a court order in March protecting properties on the east side of Moore Street as a 1916 Rising “battlefield site”. It is expected that the State, which was the defendant in the case, will appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, a consensual deal with between Hammerson, Allianz and Mr O’Reilly would avoid a potentially protracted and public legal battle.

The acquirers and their advisers, understood to include solicitors William Fry and consultants KPMG, would be keen to avoid a scenario similar a dispute that erupted two years ago between Cork developer Michael O’Flynn and US investment firm Blackstone.

Both sides ended up in court in July 2014 after a Blackstone vehicle Carbon Finance attempted to call in the O’Flynn Group’s borrowings at short notice. They subsequently reached a settlement, with Mr O’Flynn retaining control of all his company’s development assets.