Monday 22 December 2014

Nick Webb: Mulryan is close to wiping slate clean

Published 25/05/2014 | 02:30

Sean Mulryan
Sean Mulryan

Back in the day, I went out on the lash with Sean Mulryan. It was the only interview Ireland's biggest homebuilder ever did. We went out to dinner in Nobu in London's Docklands, talked and drank vodka. Meursault. And possibly Port.

From the notes scratched out on a napkin, it showed a picture of a man who wasn't going to get pushed around easily. Patience was one of his key business attributes. He'd wait and wait and wait until the time was right for a deal. Mulryan's time may be approaching. Michael O'Flynn was the first big exit from NAMA earlier this month and Mulryan is also moving towards the exit as his debts to the state agency either get paid off or refinanced.

"I have been working through Ballymore's debt reduction with NAMA since 2010 in agreement with them and this debt reduction is continuing at pace," he told me last week.

Mulryan has just hired Lazard and CBRE to raise almost €2.5bn which will fund the mega Nine Elms development in London, which will help wipe his slate clean.

While Mulryan is tearing up trees in London, he is altogether more cautious about the Irish property market, which accounts for around 15 per cent of Ballymore's business.

Ballymore is now active on three sites in Terenure and Royal Canal Park in Dublin and Naas in Co Kildare, building 750 homes.

"In 2015, Ballymore will start a further three new sites," according to Mulryan.

"There are difficulties unlocking the system to build house again after six years of inactivity, so that supply can match up to demand. The situation is complex, especially in the area of new homes," he warned.

"Managing in this increasing complex building environment is increasing build costs, making affordable new-house building difficult to deliver," he said.

That's code for price rises.

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