Business Irish

Monday 22 September 2014

REO likely to lose control of iconic Battersea power station

Property

Emmet Oliver, Deputy Business Editor

Published 01/12/2011 | 05:00

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Developers Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett look set to finally lose control of their most cherished UK asset, the Battersea Power Station, as NAMA and Lloyds Bank move to appoint receivers to the project.

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NAMA and Lloyds have applied for a court hearing on December 12 looking for a receiver (known in the UK as an administrator) to be appointed to the project, which gives their company Real Estate Opportunities (REO) only days to do a deal by bringing in an outside investor.

Battersea is owned by REO and a group of investors and the Battersea company owes £324m (€379m) to NAMA and Lloyds.

REO itself is majority-owned by Treasury Holdings, founded by Barrett and Ronan.

While administration now looks increasingly likely, the London landmark has been placed in a special purpose vehicle which means that administration has no implications for other assets connected to either REO or Treasury.

REO bought the site in 2006 for a reported €595m and while planning permission and political support has come for the project, it has yet to be developed and lacks a connection to the London Underground.

A Malaysian fund and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich are both understood to have made offers to invest in the site, but no deal so far has been completed.

The move to appoint administrators puts fresh pressure on the REO team.

The two banks this week demanded repayment of the loans from the Battersea company and a statement from REO said yesterday the Battersea company was "not in a position to satisfy these demands for repayment".

The purchase of the site in 2006 was the first significant acquisition in the UK for a number of years by REO.

Set alongside the River Thames in the London Borough of Wandsworth, the site is under a mile-and-a-half from Knightsbridge and under two miles from Oxford Street and London's West End.

Just this week UK Chancellor George Osborne agreed that London's Northern tube line could run to the site, once the developers were prepared to put up some of their own money.

"There is no certainty that any such transaction will be effected," said a statement yesterday from REO about what might happen next. I

Meanwhile, NAMA yesterday released a list of properties it has foreclosed on in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Osprey Hotel in Naas, Co Kildare, is among them.

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