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Anglo moves to sell off Florida land for half the price paid

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Anglo Irish Bank is likely to sign off on a €17m deal. Photo: Getty Images

Anglo Irish Bank is likely to sign off on a €17m deal. Photo: Getty Images

Anglo Irish Bank is likely to sign off on a €17m deal. Photo: Getty Images

Anglo Irish Bank is likely to sign off on a $25m (€17m) deal in the New Year to sell land in Florida where developer Paddy Kelly and his associates once planned a $1bn (€683m) urban regeneration.

The land in Sarasota is being sold for less than half the $60m (€49m at the time) paid for it in 2004.

It emerged that Florida-based CMR Bayside Associates had hoped to finalise an agreement with Anglo Irish Bank at the end of last month -- but paperwork delays meant the deal was still pending.

Mark Famiglio, a partner in CMR, said that while it was possible the deal could be signed this Friday, it was more likely to take place in the first quarter of 2010. He added that CMR was ready to close, but that the delays had been down to Anglo Irish Bank.

Paddy Kelly was one of the backers of Irish American Management Services (IAM), which had intended to undertake a massive redevelopment of the site that would have included a high-end hotel, apartments and retail space.

Other investors included John McCabe of McCabe Construction and John Walsh, a long-time investment partner of Mr Kelly.

Mr Kelly's business empire had, however, come under intense pressure, and his high-profile RBQ property investment firm was wound up earlier this month on foot of a High Court application by an associate company.

Earlier this year, Mr Kelly admitted that he was on the brink of bankruptcy.

During the summer, it was rumoured that another US property developer, Zeb Portanova, was lined up to buy the 15-acre site in Florida from Anglo Irish Bank for an estimated $40m.

In 2008, the troubled site had become the subject of a legal spat between IAM and a British Virgin Islands (BVI) entity that operates as a trust for the children of a long-time friend of Mr Kelly, Rene Gareau.

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The BVI vehicle, Bussoleno , claimed IAM was delinquent on $7.7m in loans and in July this year its legal representatives tried to have a judgment registered against Mr Kelly, Mr McCabe and Mr Walsh in Florida enforced in Ireland.

The judge hearing the case criticised elements of the manner in which the action had been brought by Bussoleno and also declined to grant its application for summary judgment against the three Irish men.

Meanwhile, CMR had already tried to persuade local Sarasota authorities of the merits of its plans for a municipal centre on the site.


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