Nick Webb: Kelleher helps out with the FAI debt deal
Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30
Chicago Spire developer and movie-maker Garrett Kelleher has emerged as one of the key power brokers in the deal to refinance the FAI's €50m-plus debt associated with the building of the Aviva Stadium.
Behind the schemes, Irish billionaires Denis O'Brien and Dermot Desmond were also involved in helping the FAI.
"I'm delighted to have been able to help," Kelleher told me from Chicago last week. "I'm passionate about football and the League of Ireland and I've a lot of respect for John Delaney. He's done a great job in putting the FAI on a more stable footing."
It is understood that Kelleher, who bought league of Ireland team St Patrick's Athletic in 2006, approached FAI boss John Delaney to see if he could help with the organisation's finances. In late 2011, he was given access to FAI ledgers and given a mandate to seek alternative financing. It was an unpaid mandate.
This saw Kelleher nudge a number of 'unconventional' banking sources and dance closely with an unnamed German institution. But a deal didn't materialise.
Stewart Doyle of QED Equity, part of Dermot Desmond's financial empire, also got involved, and relationships with private equity houses and other financiers were tapped. US private equity group KKR was brought to the table and the FAI was able to wrangle a €12.5m writedown on its €50m-plus stadium debt. Even better was the lowering of its interest costs and a less scary capital repayment schedule. The likelihood is that the FAI will be able to refinance the debt again in the next couple of years.
"I have to say one thing. Dermot Desmond and Garrett Kelleher – both of them were very helpful in terms of opening doors," FAI boss Delaney told me in the Merrion Hotel last week. "It wasn't that difficult to find a partner. We looked at a few."
With the banks sorted, all he needs to do now is find a replacement for Robbie.
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