Developer Johnny Ronan's Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) secured a temporary injunction from the High Court in Dublin on Tuesday preventing US investment firm Colony Capital from appointing a receiver to a company engaged in the joint development of the Waterfront South Central residential and office project in Dublin's docklands.
The legal action stems from a wider dispute between RGRE and Colony, which owns 70 per cent of the Waterfront development, after the US group decided in June to wrap its share of their wider Irish joint ventures in a sale of $2.7 billion of international real-estate assets to New York-based Fortress Investment Group.
This would see Fortress take ownership of Colony Capital's joint stakes with RGRE in Waterfront, the future European headquarters of Facebook in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Salesforce's future European base in the Dublin docklands and its neighbouring hotel – called the Samuel Hotel – which is due to open next year.
The Fortress deal was revealed on June 7th and due to complete by the end of the year. Colony announced the following day it was rebranding itself as DigitalBridge as it focuses on the digital infrastructure sector.
The temporary injunction from the appointment of a receiver to the so-called Waterside Block 9 Developments Ltd was granted by Ms Justice Nuala Butler, pending a full hearing. The move to appoint a receiver came as Colony sought to call in loans owed by the company in recent days.
Colony Capital and RGRE are joint venture partners in the planned development of Waterfront, a commercial and residential scheme that would see over 1,000 new homes and 66,718sq m of office space developed in Dublin’s north docklands overlooking the Liffey. While the office scheme secured planning permission in August, An Bórd Pleanála refused in May to grant approval for the planned residential element, comprised of two 40-plus storey towers.
It first emerged in the middle of last year that Colony was seeking to sell its interest in joint ventures with RGRE. RGRE said in a statement on Tuesday that Colony, in association with RGRE, had reached agreement last December for a sale of the stakes to “a consortium of South African institutional investors, which would have provided stable equity in these developments for the coming decades”.
Real estate assets
RGRE claimed Colony resiled from that agreement in its subsequent deal to sell its non-digital real estate assets globally to Fortress “without RGRE’s knowledge and in breach of the joint venture arrangements in force”.
Given RGRE has had no knowledge of the terms of this new agreement, the company said that it is unclear what effect it may have on the various joint venture projects in Dublin.
“We, in good faith, helped to reach a deal with a consortium of South African institutional investors who would work hand-in-hand with Ronan Group Real Estate to bring crucial commercial and residential projects in Dublin to fruition,” a spokesman for RGRE said. “Colony Capital accepted this deal and it should be honoured.”
A spokesman for DigitalBridge, as Colony is now known, declined to comment. The $2.7 billion global real estate assets under management to Fortress involves debt and equity positions in 100 properties in the US, Republic of Ireland, Spain, UK and France.