Receiver appointed to Dunne assets

 

THE NATIONAL Asset Management Agency has appointed a receiver to properties within developer Seán Dunne’s DCD Group over loans totalling about €350 million with the State agency.

The receiver will take control of valuable assets in Mr Dunne’s property empire, including Hume House, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and the Riverside IV building on the south quays, home to law firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice.

The loans were transferred to Nama from Bank of Ireland and Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Mr Dunne expressed surprise and disappointment at Nama’s move but said that he could not challenge the appointment.

“It was a shock given the progress made on our Nama business plan to date was excellent, and well beyond expectations in very tough market conditions,” he said in a statement. “There was no indication of any deterioration in our relationship.”

The D4 Hotels in Ballsbridge, which are also owned by Mr Dunne, are not affected as their purchase was funded by a banking syndicate led by Ulster Bank, which as a UK-owned bank did not participate in the Nama process.

The four blocks at the front of AIB Bankcentre, which Mr Dunne acquired with funding from Ulster Bank and Irish Nationwide, also do not fall under the receivership.

Paul McCann of Grant Thornton was appointed property receiver by Nama over an office block on Herbert Street, Dublin, which was previously occupied by Matheson Ormsby Prentice.

He was also appointed over development sites in Dublin – in North Wall Quay, Sandymount and Rathfarnham – and to the Hollybrook apartments on Brighton Road, Foxrock, south Dublin.

A source close to Mr Dunne said he had proposed working out the group’s debts with Nama over eight years, but the agency wanted a shorter timeframe and to install its own management team to recover the loans for the State.

Mr Dunne said that his management had “added value over a number of key Nama assets since the submission of our group’s business plan in September 2010 and achieved in the first 10 months what it set out to do in two years”.

He was not in a position to “dispute or second guess” Nama’s decision, he said. He argued that receivers could not work out the company’s assets in a more cost-effective manner than his team. He had proposed that Nama send in a representative to work with them, but the agency declined.

“It is Nama’s prerogative to deal with the debt in whatever way they consider appropriate,” he said.

One of Ireland’s most ambitious property developers, Mr Dunne acquired the Ballsbridge hotel sites in 2005 for €379 million at a record price for land at that time.

He invested about €165 million of his own money in the project.

Mr Dunne is still awaiting planning permission for the site, and the hotels will operate for five years under the development plan.

He acquired Hume House in 2005 in a property swap that valued the building at about €130 million at the time.

The North Wall Quay site seized by the receiver is adjacent to the shell building once owned by rival developer Liam Carroll earmarked as the head office of Anglo Irish Bank. That building was also taken over by a receiver. A legal challenge taken by Mr Dunne halted construction on the building after the High Court quashed a fast-track planning permission from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. He argued the permission was discriminatory.