Wife of Derek Quinlan to net windfall from Bankcentre site

Siobhán Quinlan and Johnny Ronan own site worth €120m

An aerial view of the Ballsbridge site that is being developed as a high-end office complex by Ronan Group Real Estate.

An aerial view of the Ballsbridge site that is being developed as a high-end office complex by Ronan Group Real Estate.

 

The wife of property financier Derek Quinlan has emerged as a joint shareholder with developer Johnny Ronan of a multimillion euro prime site in Ballsbridge in Dublin that is set to be turned into a high-end office capable of accommodating about 3,500 people.

The Irish Times has learned that Siobhán Quinlan is in exclusive talks to sell her interest to Los Angeles-based real estate investment group Colony Capital, which has backed Mr Ronan on a number of projects in recent years.

Companies linked to Mr Ronan and Ms Quinlan acquired the site, currently comprising four vacant office blocks and surrounding land in front of AIB’s bank centre building on Merrion Road, for €67.5 million in October 2015.

Ms Quinlan, whose husband remains a debtor of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), is poised to net a substantial windfall, as the site is believed to now be worth about €120 million, according to sources.

A computer-generated image of the new office development proposed by Ronan Group Real Estate for the front of the bank centre campus on Merrion Road in Ballsbridge.
A computer-generated image of the new office development proposed by Ronan Group Real Estate for the front of the bank centre campus on Merrion Road in Ballsbridge.

Representatives for Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) and Colony Capital, which will also be providing debt financing for the project, declined to comment. Efforts to secure comment from the Quinlans were unsuccessful.

Ms Quinlan is a director of Quinlan Real Estate, an advisory firm led by her husband. RGRE and Ms Quinlan own the Ballsbridge site through an Irish collective asset-management vehicle called Fibonacci Property ICAV.

Demolition

RGRE is preparing to start work in September on demolishing the four 1970s buildings on the 3.7 acre site, opposite the RDS showgrounds in Dublin 4. It plans to construct a 330,000 sq ft (30,658 sq m) office complex.

The project is called Fibonacci Square and features a sunken plaza. It is expected to be completed within 2½ years.

The site was previously acquired in 2006 by Carlow developer Sean Dunne for an estimated €165 million, before being sold on three years ago by a receiver on behalf of Ulster Bank and Nama.

The latter acquired loans linked to the property from Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) post the financial crash in 2008.

AIB vacated the four buildings in 2014, although it retains a presence on other parts of the bank centre campus.

In the coming weeks, the 71 per cent State-owned bank will begin moving up to 1,500 of its Ballsbridge employees to Central Park in Leopardstown, Dublin 18. Another 800 employees, including the leadership team, will transfer to a new building on Molesworth Street next year.

It is envisaged that AIB will vacate the Ballsbridge campus entirely in the coming years. Facebook, which is already in advanced talks to rent office space in the complex, is believed to be interested in the offices being developed by RGRE.

Colony Capital has developed strong links with Mr Ronan in recent years, partly backing the developer’s refinancing of borrowings with Nama in 2015.