Tuesday 26 September 2017

Canny Griffin making profits from bank fire sale in London

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

John Griffin is a tough cookie – but a smart one. He sold his London car hire business Addison Lee to private equity barons for €360m two years ago.

But he's also made a killing buying up Irish property assets from the banks and believes he'll clear £30m (€37m) on his latest deal at Royal mint Gardens.

"A guy came up to me and said the bank wanted to put his project into the toxic bank Nama.

"The bank wanted to foreclose, so we settled on a deal for £2m (€2.45m) ," he told me over a coffee.

"We resurrected the scheme and got a change of use, changing it from offices to residential. For my £2m, I'm expecting to make £30m," he said.

The four-tower block project on Royal Mint Street in London is "250 yards from Tower Bridge". It's a "great spot".

It had been initially developed by an Irish builder from the midlands, Griffin added. With prime London residential property prices soaring, Griffin's timing on the deal has been absolutely spot on. He knows a thing or two about prime property, having dropped almost €25m on a luxury pad on London's Regents square.

While the London-based chairman of Irish TV and his team added plenty of value to the project, it's just another painful example of how prime Irish property or banking assets were offloaded at cheap, cheap prices during the panic of the crash – the Treasury Holdings scheme at Battersea Power Station, a big chunk of Bank of Ireland, Anglo Irish Bank's US loan book, AIB's Banco Zachodni in Poland ... the list goes on.

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