Abramovich in talks with NAMA to buy up debt at Battersea
RUSSIAN oligarch Roman Abramovich has held talks with NAMA about buying the debt connected to the Battersea Power Station site in London.
Mr Abramovich is one of a number of international investors who have made approaches to Ireland's bad bank. NAMA, together with Lloyds Banking Group, has £300m (€350m) worth of loans attached to the site.
The Battersea Power Station site is owned by Real Estate Opportunities (REO), a company that is majority owned by Treasury Holdings. REO has said it is close to announcing a deal with an international investor to buy these debts.
Reports in the UK said yesterday that while the discussions between Mr Abramovich and NAMA were no longer "live", the Russian billionaire is the site's lenders' preferred bidder.
Mr Abramovich, who owns Chelsea FC, has considered creating a new leisure and retail complex and a new stadium for Chelsea at the power station site. He has also looked at improving transport links, with an aerial cable car system to ferry Chelsea fans across the river to the new stadium.
The Russian billionaire has an estimated €8bn fortune.
A Chelsea spokeswoman said the club had talked to "various people with interests in Battersea Power Station" but hadn't had any substantive discussions with anyone with regards to that particular site for "several months".
A director of REO, Rob Tincknell, dismissed Chelsea FC as being suitable for the site. The football club "does not fit on the power station site. It would require the demolition of the Grade 11-listed building which would lead to a 10-year planning battle", he said.
NAMA declined to comment yesterday.
One of the reasons NAMA and Lloyds are believed to be keen on Mr Abramovich's plan is because it would bring a vibrant new use for the historical site.
REO has planning approval to build 3,400 homes, 10 million sq ft of offices and retail space at Battersea. It hopes a cash injection will allow the £5.5bn redevelopment to become reality and repay the lenders.
The landmark site has lain dormant since 1983 -- when the power station was shut down -- as various attempts to redevelop it have failed.
Chelsea FC has looked at a number of locations across west London for a new home, but any move from its present stadium is dependent on the support of Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) -- a supporters group which owns the freehold to Stamford Bridge and naming rights to the football club. The club failed to win the required 75pc approval at a CPO meeting last month to buy back the freehold.