Wednesday 1 March 2017

Grehan brothers hope to rebuild empire in Brazil

Developers want to start again after 'quick death'

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Developers Ray and Danny Grehan are already making plans to start all over again -- in Brazil.

As the State's so-called 'bad bank' Nama prepares to go to court in London on Tuesday to seek the appointment of an administrator to the Glenkerrin chiefs' UK assets, informed sources told the Sunday Independent how the Kildare-based developers are looking at potential projects overseas. Brazil, with its booming economy and current housing shortage, has emerged as the Grehan brothers' favoured destination.

Asked last night if the brothers would challenge Nama's application to have an administrator appointed to the remainder of their UK assets, an informed source last night described the prospect as "unlikely".

"Ray and Danny will be meeting with their legal team on Monday, but the chances of them challenging the Nama application are unlikely. They did their best to work with Nama, but it's a done deal now. They're looking for a 'quick death' now. Hopefully the receivership process will be done within the next four or five months, and after that, they'll be ready to start again."

Nama's pursuit of the Grehans has been little short of relentless since it first moved to appoint receivers Grant Thornton to six properties owned and controlled by the Glenkerrin Group 11 days ago.

Among the properties taken over by the receivers on foot of that decision were the former UCD veterinary college site in Ballsbridge, Dublin, which Glenkerrin had purchased for €171.5m at the height of the boom in 2005; apartments and offices at the Grange in Stillorgan, Co Dublin; and the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth, Co Kildare. In a sensational twist to the story, those receivers were 'stood down' temporarily last weekend on foot of legal advice that the Grehans should be given more time to repay their €660m debt.

That time amounted to little more than a day, however, with Nama telling them they would now have to pay up by close of business last Tuesday.

After failing to meet that extraordinary deadline, the receivers were reinstated.

Last Friday evening Nama moved again to protect its security, assuming control of a London hotel owned by the Grehans ahead of its court application for the appointment of an administrator to their UK assets.

The agency appointed accountants from Grant Thornton's UK office to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Shoreditch at 4pm on Friday afternoon, the Sunday Independent understands.

Tuesday's court application, which the Grehans anticipate will be granted, will see Nama assume control of Glenkerrin's other UK assets including an undeveloped site in Canary Wharf and a shopping development in Ealing Broadway in west London. UK accounts for the Grehans' business show they have rental income of approximately €11m.

Nama's decision to put the Grehans into receivership has taken many within what remains of Ireland's property industry by surprise, given the relative strength of their London portfolio.

Speculation is mounting over who will be the next big developer to be put into receivership.

This newspaper understands that two more actions are now deemed by Nama to be "likely" within the next two weeks.

Commenting on that suggestion last night, one well-known developer told our reporter: "You could be looking at one of them! I wouldn't be surprised if you told me they had my picture on a dart board at this stage."

Sunday Independent

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