Mystery buyer bids €8.5m for O'Donnell's French chalet
A MYSTERY buyer has offered to pay €8.5m for a luxury French ski chalet owned by one of Ireland's best-known corporate lawyers, Brian O'Donnell, the Irish Independent has learned. The offer reflects a near-40pc decline in the €13.2m valuation placed on the property during high-profile legal proceedings earlier this year.
Mr O'Donnell and his doctor wife, Mary Pat, own the exclusive Chalet Hermine in the heart of the French resort of Courcheval, but it has been up for sale for close to three years.
The chalet, which is available to rent through a number of firms at rates of close to €70,000 per week during the peak skiing season, comes equipped with a chef, a chauffeured 4x4, a wine cellar and sauna.
Mr O'Donnell and his wife fought a high-profile legal battle with Bank of Ireland (BoI) earlier this year when it sought the repayment of nearly €70m in loans.
The couple counterclaimed for an alleged breach of implied terms of agreement and for reputational damage.
Mr O'Donnell's firm is one of a number contracted to provide advice to NAMA, although at the time of the BoI proceedings earlier this year, he said the firm had not yet been engaged to provide any such advice.
BoI and the O'Donnells eventually reached an undisclosed settlement, following proceedings that laid bare the €800m in debts owed by Mr O'Donnell and his wife to various international lenders after a buying spree that saw them snap up a number of trophy London properties, as well as others in locations such as Stockholm, Dubai and Washington.
During the legal proceedings, a statement of affairs prepared by Mr O'Donnell and his wife valued the French chalet at €13.2m. But BoI raised concerns last year about the pair's property valuations, saying they seemed "excessively high".
BoI had sought summary judgment against firms controlled by the O'Donnells, including Luxembourg-based Grey Stoke. That company's main asset is the French chalet, which the couple bought in 2004.
The latest set of accounts for that company, for 2010, confirm that an offer was made for Chalet Hermine and that the firm lost €250,000 last year.
"The estimated market value of this property, according to the offer received from a potential buyer, amounts to €8.5m," the accounts note.
BoI's private banking arm has a first charge over the chalet in order to cover a €3.65m facility.
The chalet currently remains up for sale with the international real estate firm Frank Knight. A representative for the firm said the resort of Courcheval was extremely popular with wealthy Russian buyers.