Irish News

Saturday 2 August 2014

Light at end of the Nama tunnel

RONALD QUINLAN

Published 07/10/2012|05:00

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DEVELOPER Sean Mulryan has taken another significant step towards the exit doors at Nama with the successful launch last weekend of apartments at Ballymore's Embassy Gardens development in London.

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The Sunday Independent understands that some 100 units at the complex were sold over the two days at prices ranging from €870,000 for a one-bedroom apartment to €1.1m for a two-bed.

A penthouse at the complex meanwhile was sold for a cool €4.1m.

Ballymore's London sale drive for Embassy Gardens comes hot on the heels of launches held by the group over successive weekends in Hong Kong and Singapore last April.

Taken together, those two events saw the Irish developer sell off some 160 apartments at Embassy Gardens for an average price of €925,000.

It is understood that some 400 units at the development have been sold since last May. Sources close to the matter anticipate that another 150 units will be sold by the end of this month.

Commenting on the sales Ballymore has secured to date, a spokesman for Ballymore said: "Embassy Gardens was probably our best launch ever in recessionary times -- and we have been through a few recessions in our 30 years in business. This launch comes at a crucial time for the Ballymore group and for Nama. We achieved over £1,000 (€1,244) per square foot, which shows the strength of the London residential market, if you deliver the right product."

When completed, Ballymore's 15-acre development at Embassy Gardens will accommodate the new US Embassy, a total of 1,982 new homes, shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, business space, a 100-bed hotel as well as six acres of outdoor public space.

Ballymore's sale of the Embassy Gardens apartments is expected to help the group achieve a significant reduction in its Nama debt. When the group's loans were first taken into Nama in 2010, they are understood to have amounted to a staggering €1.55bn. Two years on, it is believed that they have been paid down by more than 50 per cent through a combination of aggressive sales, refinancing and joint ventures.

The Sunday Independent understands that Sean Mulryan is determined to see his business pay off all outstanding debts to Nama by 2016.

In a recent interview with Property Week, Mr Mulryan's son John described the relationship between Ballymore -- whose UK unit he heads up -- and Nama as a "largely positive" one.

"We have a business plan agreed until 2017. People perceive NAMA as being a negative thing, but in our experience it's a professional relationship," he said.

Sunday Independent

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