Wednesday 18 October 2017

Billions have vanished into a big black hole of debt

Roisin Burke

SINCE the financial crisis began three years ago, tens of billions have been wiped off Irish share prices and property values. Banks have called in loans, businesses have failed.

Some of Ireland’s best-known businessmen have lost fortunes or been totally wiped out.

1. SEAN QUINN

DOWN €2.5BN

The Cavan tycoon is likely to be down by €3.5bn — the guts of his estimated fortune — and then some.

The man who never bets more than 50¢ at cards made outrageous gambles on Anglo Irish that have potentially lost him €2.5bn. His companies have vast borrowings approaching €1bn.

Last year Forbes estimated that Quinn's wealth had dropped $3.3bn. We think it may have fallen further.

2. BERNARD MCNAMARA

OWES € 1.5BN

Punting on the €412m Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend now looks most unwise.

3. LIAM CARROLL

OWES € 1.3BN

The shoebox apartment developer's property group went into liquidation last year and banks seized control of properties against loans totalling more than €1.3bn.

4. JOHN FLEMING

OWES € 1.1BN

In March, a liquidator was appointed to Cork construction mogul John Fleming's company, Fleming Construction Group. It has debts of over €1.1bn.

5. BARRY O'CALLAGHAN

LOST € 1BN

In 2008, O'Callaghan's stake in EMPG, the education publishing giant he built up, was worth €1bn on paper. Restructuring of the debt-riddled firm wrote that down to a big fat zero last month.

That said, he claimed just months ago: “I'm not broke, I'm perfectly solvent.”

6. BRENDAN MURTAGH

OWES €350M

Collapsing property values and a shedload of debt did for the Kingspan founder. Worth about €300m the height of the boom, a statement of his assets lodged in court in February showed a net deficit of about €350m.

7. MICHAEL O'ROURKE/LENNY RYAN

DOWN €300M

It had been thought that Setanta Sports was looking for a buyer in late 2007, with the company valued at €1.5bn. This would have meant founders Ryan and O'Rourke were sitting on stakes of about €150m each. But its main UK business collapsed in the Summer of 2009.

8. PADDY KELLY

LIKELY TO OWE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS

In 2008, the “gentleman builder” was once worth about €100m. He has admitted he is now on the brink of bankruptcy and that his liabilities exceed his assets.

Some reports suggest his could owe hundreds of millions.

9. HUGH O'REGAN

DEBTS OF €200M-PLUS

His pub empire was once worth €122m during the tiger years — but O'Regan crashed onto the rocks when he switched into property development. Receivers were appointed to his Kilternan Hotel and Science campus last year, which had debts of over €170m.

Last July, Anglo Irish won a judgement of €37m against the businessman. Another lawsuit saw investors seek €9m related to a deal in the IFSC.

10. TOM CONSIDINE, PADDY SWEENEY & GERRY PRENDERGAST

JOINTLY OWE €466M

The trio splashed out a record-breaking €315m for the Millennium Park site near Naas in 2006.

Considine has borrowings of €275m.

Firms owned by the three developers owe €191m of loans which are being transferred to Nama.

11. JOHN SWEENEY

DEBTS OF €62M

The Galway businessman made a fortune out of petrol stations. Worth about €80m in boom years, his Black Shore Holdings went into liquidation last month.

Anglo says it is owed €55m while Esso Ireland is owed more than €12m.

12. JOHN LALLY

€ 110M DEAL VALUE WIPEOUT

In 2006 the Galway property developer pulled off the biggest deal of his life when he spent €110m on the FAAC Electronic site in Sandyford — €30m over the guide price. It's worth just €31m now. Investors are wiped out. It’s a story you’ll hear again and again.

13. SEAN FITZPATRICK

LOST € 105M

Former Anglo Irish boss was worth about €105m, according to estimates of his net worth circulated to his lenders during the boom. His Anglo shares, worth about €34m at peak price in 2007 are now worthless.

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