independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

O'Donnell's luxurious chalet valued at €13m last year to sell for just €5.6m

PIET-A-TERRE: Chalet Hermine, Brian O'Donnell's luxurious retreat in France

BEFORE the world came crashing down around him, Chalet Hermine was high-flying solicitor Brian O'Donnell's luxurious home from home.



Valued at €13.2m as recently as last year, the Vico Capital chief's luxurious retreat in the French resort of Courcheval is now about to be sold for a mere €5.66m with contracts recently exchanged on the property, according to sources familiar with the matter.

And while that price tag might still sound excessive in this age of austerity, it should be noted that Mr O'Donnell's former pied-a-terre (which he owns through the Luxembourg-based firm Greystoke) does come complete with the services of a chef, chauffeured 4x4, wine cellar and sauna.

The €5.66m agreed upon also represents a near €3m discount on the €8.5m offer made for Chalet Hermine by a mystery buyer in 2010 and recorded in Greystoke's annual accounts for that year.

But while the successful completion of the chalet's sale would see Bank of Ireland's first charge of €3.65m over the property repaid comfortably, the bank's wider and ongoing battle for the recovery of the €75m it claims Mr O'Donnell and his wife, Mary Pat, owe it looks set to continue for some time yet.

With the bank pressing aggressively for the return of its cash, Mr O'Donnell decamped to his family's €8m townhouse on Barton Street in London's Westminster in a bid to claim the city as his centre of main interest and avail of the UK's more benign bankruptcy regime.

Bank of Ireland, for its part, is seeking to have its formerly valued client declared bankrupt here in Ireland. The bank's pursuit of Mr O'Donnell and his wife has already seen him endure several intense bouts of cross-examination in relation to his financial affairs before Mr Justice Peter Kelly at the Commercial Court.

Only two months ago, he appeared to be at breaking point, telling Mr Justice Kelly how he was living a "hand to mouth existence".

Incredibly, the €75m at the centre of the High Court row between the parties is a mere drop in the ocean in the context of Mr O'Donnell's overall borrowings from international banks.

Taken together, Vico Capital's total property debt has been estimated to be in the region of €880m.

Sunday Independent

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