Monday 5 December 2016

Bank placed La Stampa building on market for too little, Court told

Tim Healy

Published 18/10/2016 | 02:30

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THE owner of the Dublin city centre property which housed the La Stampa restaurant, bar and hotel claims AIB advertised them for sale at up to €7.5m less than their value.

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Louis Murray (71), a director of Bailieboro Springwater Ltd, now in receivership, and former operator of the La Stampa, Samsara Bar and the Dawson Hotel, in Dawson Street, says they are worth at least €20m and up to €22.5m, but AIB put them up with a guide price of €15m.

Mr Murray, of Killiney Hill Road, Dublin, and his company, provided security on the property in 2005 over borrowings from AIB.

He says the business performed well but did suffer in the economic downturn and due to ill health he had to withdraw from involvement from 2011 onwards. His sons-in-law represented him from then on.

Mr Murray and the company have brought Commercial Court proceedings seeking declarations including that he and his firm had an enforceable agreement in April 2015 to refinance or discharge his indebtedness of around €19.5m to the bank.

He also seeks a declaration the bank, and receiver Declan McDonald, failed to act reasonably or were in breach of duty by in selling the property at an undervalue significantly less than the best price.

The case was admitted to the High Court's fast track commercial list on consent between the parties by Mr Justice Brian McGovern.

In an affidavit, Mr Murray says he agreed a consensual sale of the premises in 2014 after AIB began to press for repayment of the loans. He hoped to find a buyer himself who would pay off his debt and relaunch the business with him.

Despite this, AIB appointed a receiver in October 2014 which significantly interfered with the running of the business, he says.

He set about seeking investors and entered into a talks with Olympia Investments who agreed to provide €21.5m, including €19.8m to settle his debt with AIB.

Despite these proposals, AIB advertised the property for sale last May with a guide price of €15m, he says.

Mr Murray says he does not wish to await what the bank and AIB "might do". He is anxious the court deals with the case expeditiously or through the non-court dispute resolution procedure.

Irish Independent

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