Wednesday 29 January 2020

Mulryan joins Jeff Bezos on UK property 'power list'

Sean Mulryan
Sean Mulryan

Donal Buckley and Ronald Quinlan

Developer Sean Mulryan's decision long ago to invest in London's docklands continues to pay dividends. Having already helped see Ballymore Properties through the recession and out of Nama, the strength of Mr Mulryan's property portfolio in the UK capital has propelled him on to the Estates Gazette 2017 'Power List'.

"Mulryan was one of Nama's biggest debtors, but managed to repay €3.2bn and turn his business around," the magazine notes, before adding of the Roscommon-born businessman that he's "a survivor of one of the biggest downturns who continues to be involved in the industry's most important developments".

While Mr Mulryan secures 47th place on the list of the 50 most powerful individuals in Britain's commercial real estate sector, he bears the distinction of being the only Irish person to make the cut.

The absence of other Irish entries is hardly surprising, given sheer influence wielded by those singled out by Estates Gazette - a publication widely acknowledged as the UK property industry's bible.

Among the noteworthy names joining the Ballymore chief on the power list are Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. The US-born billionaire is ranked second off the back of Amazon's trailblazing contribution to the retail and logistics sector. Estates Gazette says the company's dominance of online retailing coupled with its recent acquisition for $13.7bn of US grocery chain, Whole Foods, will "prompt retail, grocery, tech and logistics firms to rethink their entire strategies for future success".

Topping this year's power list is the chairman of Hong Kong-listed CC Land, Cheung Chung Kiu. His company's recent Stg£1.15bn purchase of London's Leadenhall Building, EC3, commonly known as the 'Cheesegrater', is seen as having "recalibrated the whole London market" as it struggled to come to terms with the threat posed by Brexit. The price paid by CC Land is now being seen as the benchmark against which London's prime commercial real estate is valued in the post-Brexit market.

Although Sean Mulryan is the only Irish person on the power list, there are others with an Irish interest. Coming in at number 43 on the list is UK shopping centre giant Hammerson's director of retail for Ireland, Simon Betty. Commenting on his appointment to the position following Hammerson's acquisition in 2015 of the Project Jewel portfolio, which included the Dundrum Town Centre, Estates Gazette says that "with more than Stg£1bn of Irish retail assets under his responsibility, how he [Betty] navigates through the current retail climate will be watched by the whole industry".

Further up the rankings in 15th and 16th position respectively are Dan Dejanovich, Head of European Real Estate at private equity giant, Cerberus, and James Riddell, managing director at Lone Star Europe. Both companies have significant Irish interests having acquired loan portfolios worth billions of euro from Nama and other Irish financial institutions in the wake of the crash.

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