Saturday 20 October 2018

Builder O'Rourke buys out firm of family rivals

By SEAN CRONIN RAY O'Rourke, the London-based construction tycoon, has taken control of rival Swift Structures in a move which catapults him...

RAY O'Rourke, the London-based construction tycoon, has taken control of rival Swift Structures in a move which catapults him into the major leagues by heading a firm with a turnover of #300m.

Mr O'Rourke, originally from Co Leitrim, took control of Swift after the company was hit by succession of loss-making contracts including the redevelopment of Croke Park, where it is reported to have lost around #1.5m.

Swift Structures is run by the Co Mayo-born brothers Jim and Matt Halligan. Although the two companies have long been keen rivals, they share close family links through Mr O'Rourke's wife, who is a sister of Jim and Matt Halligan.

Jim Halligan is also well-known in the equestrian world as a racehorse owner. It is understood that his close family ties played a big part in Mr O'Rourke's decision to take a controling interest.

The move puts him at the head of a business with several major projects in Ireland and the UK, including the #80m redevelopment of Portlaoise Prison and the new London headquarters of Merrill Lynch.

O'Rourke and Swift are currently involved in a major cash wrangle on a #200m shopping centre under construction in Glasgow. They are believed to be owed by up #10m and #4m, respectively.

Swift has been involved in the British construction industry since the mid-60s; Mr O'Rourke entered the building scene a decade later, when he left the employment of the Kerry-born and London-based octogenarian John Murphy, who has featured in the Flood Tribunal.

From his humble beginnings as a site engineer with Mr Murphy, Mr O'Rourke is now at the head of a company which will soon be twice the size of his former employer.

Swift confirmed the company had been bought out but would not comment further on the deal.

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