Receivers take control of landmark former BoI HQ
Creditors hopeful that high-profile building will be snapped up by Facebook for Dublin offices
THE receivers took control of the former Bank of Ireland headquarters building on Baggot Street in Dublin yesterday -- another reminder of how far the financial services sector has fallen.
The move sparked renewed hopes that social network giant Facebook may take over the distinctive building as it expands here.
The high-profile 1960s offices were bought for €200m by a consortium led by Derek Quinlan at the height of the boom in 2006.
Yesterday, Kieran Wallace of KMPG took charge of the building on behalf of Bank of Scotland (Ireland), Danske Bank and Rabobank.
The vast office block was built between 1968 and 1978 in a stark modernist style that makes it one of the most distinctive buildings in Dublin.
The creditors are likely to have been buoyed-up by reports that Facebook is looking at the Baggot Street offices, along with several other properties, for its expanding Dublin operations.
While the next stage in the building's history is not certain, yesterday's move marks an end to the involvement of the investor syndicate that bought the property from Bank of Ireland's Pension Fund and which reads like a who's who of Celtic Tiger Ireland.
Former Anglo Irish Bank boss Sean FitzPatrick was an investor, as were Paddy Shovlin and Patrick and Antony Fitzpatrick, better known for the Beacon developments in South County Dublin. The group was put together by tax-official-turned-financier Derek Quinlan and there were around a dozen investors in total.
In addition to those high profile property names, the deal was backed by Ronan O'Caoimh, CEO of tech firm Trinity Biotech, and by a company linked to the Gowan Group that owns businesses ranging from the Irish franchise for Citreon cars to Senator Windows.
Unusually for a property deal, banks made the original loans without securing personal guarantees from the borrowers.
Despite that, a number of cases are already before the courts as a result of the same deal.
The lenders are pursuing a number of the investors for a total of €25m of the original €180m loans.
Banks claim the money is owed even though the bulk of the original deal was signed as a non-recourse loan.
In December, the High Court ordered Derek Quinlan to repay more than €6.5m arising from his share of the debt. NBH Investments Ltd, formerly Gowan Securities Ltd, was ordered to pay €827,859 and has since also been placed into receivership.
Cases against six more investors are due to be heard in the Commercial Court next month.
However, sources close to the situation said last night that there has been no contact between the new managers of the Baggot Street property and any prospective tenants.
Bank of Ireland moved most of its staff out of the property after the 2006 sale, and its lease on any remaining space in the property is understood to have ended.