Business Irish

Thursday 28 August 2014

Rogue adviser Breifne O'Brien to cash in on Berlin sale

Roisin Burke

Published 22/07/2012 | 05:00

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Rogue financial adviser Breifne O'Brien is set to cash in his share in the upcoming sale of a Berlin Airport business park, which is worth an estimated €200m.

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Bulberry Properties, the consortium developing the airport business park, is one-third owned by aviation tycoons Ulick and Des McEvaddy with FBD owning another 30 per cent-plus stake.

Other shareholders in the venture include former Riverdeep publishing magnate Barry O'Callaghan, as are tax luminaries Greg Sparks and Pierce Farrell of Farrell Grant Sparks and music impresario Maurice Cassidy.

A whopping €800m end-value was targeted for the 150-acre, three-site Berlin Airport business park development, suggesting a more than ten-fold return on lands thought to be shrewdly bought by the McEvaddys for circa €75m.

However, the sale of the mainly undeveloped lands is now expected to realise around €200m -- still well more than double the reported purchase price.

"We won't lose money, put it that way," Ulick McEvaddy told the Sunday Independent.

It is believed the lands will fetch between €280 and €400 per square metre. So far plots have sold to Daimler Benz and Sky Catering with a third high-profile buyer lined up.

The original plan was suitably high flying -- a signature building by 'starchitect' Helmut Jahn and a high-spec hotel, residential and commercial development. However, objectives were revised down to match Europe's plane-wreck economy.

The lands are located near what Der Spiegel says is "the largest airport infrastructure project in Europe" -- the building of a major new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which has been hit by delays and planning problems. The airport is now due to open on St Patrick's Day next year and it is estimated that it will bear 30 million travellers in annual passenger traffic.

It is estimated that Breifne O'Brien misappropriated up to €15m of investors' funds in a Ponzi scheme unrelated to Berlin Airport business park. He admitted he had been "living a lie" over the manner in which he operated his business and investment schemes to fund his jet-setting lifestyle.

A High Court judge described O'Brien's investors as "victims of a confidence trick that was not very sophisticated but highly successful".

Sunday Indo Business

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