Monday 24 November 2014

McNamara adviser to cash in on Nigeria building contract

Published 07/08/2012 | 05:00

A KEY lieutenant of broke businessman Bernard McNamara stands to make a fortune from a Nigerian spin-off of his ailing construction empire.

But none of the African money will go towards reducing the €1.5bn Mr McNamara's empire owes NAMA.

The Irish Independent has learned that McNamara Nigeria, which has won a series of contracts worth more than €50m, counts former McNamara executive Jack Butler as its majority shareholder. Mr Butler worked with McNamara companies for 20 years and was seen as one of Mr McNamara's most trusted advisers.

But he stepped down in 2010, around the same time the empire fell out of Mr McNamara's control and into the hands of Nama.

The Nigerian project was initially believed to be Mr McNamara's venture, since the Clare developer was pictured at a signing ceremony for the company's €40m contract to build a university in the west Nigeria state of Sokoto.

But lawyers for Mr McNamara told the Irish Independent their client did not own any of the Nigerian company and said his role as a "consultant" on the Sokoto project had "long since ceased".

Shareholding

They added that his son Michael McNamara also had no shareholding in the Nigerian company and only had a "very limited involvement in the Sokoto Project" as a "non-executive director who attends quarterly board meetings".

The lawyers failed to respond to questions about who does own the company.

But company documents in Nigeria show that Mr Butler owns 60pc of it with the remainder owned by a local man, Uzo Nwakuche.

Repeated efforts to reach Mr Butler on his mobile phone and by email were unsuccessful.

Mr Nwakuche, who has an address in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, could not be reached for comment.

McNamara Nigeria, which employs several Irish workers, was originally hired for a €40m project to build 'phase one' of a new university in Sokoto.

A senior official involved in the university project told the Irish Independent that McNamara Nigeria also recently sealed another deal to build 75 houses for the university's staff.

Professor Gajam Von Ardo, who acts as special adviser to the Sokoto governor on higher education, said McNamara Nigeria would "most likely" be chosen to build the second and third phases of the university.

The McNamaras' construction empire was one of the biggest success stories of the boom, and Bernard McNamara was the first big-name developer to declare himself "broke" back in 2010.

The bulk of his borrowings transferred to NAMA, which appointed a receiver to his businesses after failing to agree a viable business plan.

Irish Independent

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