Thursday 18 December 2014

End of Irish dream to build tallest block of flats in Europe

Plans for Canary Wharf would have cost about €1bn to complete

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

The Herstmere tower was set to be the largest residential building in Europe. Source: Squire Architects via Bloomberg
The Herstmere tower was set to be the largest residential building in Europe. Source: Squire Architects via Bloomberg

AN Irishman's plan to build the tallest residential building in Europe has collapsed amid recriminations that apparently forced the resignation of a top London banker.

Last November, it emerged that little-known developer Tom Ryan had agreed terms to buy a site in London's Canary Wharf and planned to build a 74-storey apartment block on the site.

The project, which appeared on the front page of the 'Financial Times', would have cost about €1bn to complete.

Almost as soon as the deal was publicised, though, questions were raised as to whether the 'Hertsmere Tower', as it was called, would be built. Mr Ryan was almost unknown in UK and Irish property circles and had almost no track record in major construction.

Now, the deal has fallen apart. Mr Ryan's firm, Ryan Investments Limited, never closed the deal to buy the site and it was ultimately purchased by a Chinese firm.

Credit Suisse, which had been helping Mr Ryan raise funds for the development, may face legal action over the deal and one of the bank's top private wealth specialists, Hans Olaf Eldring, has left the firm.

A number of investors who helped fund the original purchase of the site may take legal action against Credit Suisse for the return of their funds.

A spokesman for Mr Ryan confirmed that "the deposit monies (to buy the Hertsmere site) were supplied by Mr Ryan's investment company".

He added: "Our lawyers are aware of the blog from which these questions arise and it is our view that it is fundamentally and factually incorrect.

"It appears to be, in part, sponsored by way of confidential material leaked by certain individuals from, or acting on behalf of, certain companies.

"This immediately raises suspicions about the motivation of those leaking the material.

"It is our view that the media are being used mischievously."

Property

A spokesman for Credit Suisse confirmed that one of its senior bankers had departed the firm, but declined to identify Mr Eldring.

"We are unable to comment further due to ongoing investigations," he said.

The 'Guardian' reported that Omni Capital – an investment company run by developers the Candy Brothers – had been approached for investment but turned the project down.

A spokesman for that company could not be reached.

Mr Ryan had a number of investments in Ireland before the London deal.

As recently as last year, the Revenue Commissioners secured a judgement of €1.66m against Mr Ryan, with his address listed as 13 Herbert Street in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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