Monday 21 October 2019

Deirdre Foley receives €3.29m dividend from the sale of Clerys

It is more than four years since the famous department store on O'Connell Street closed. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
It is more than four years since the famous department store on O'Connell Street closed. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gordon Deegan

Businesswoman Deirdre Foley last year shared in a €16.49m dividend payout arising from the sale of the former Clerys department store site to the Press Up Group.

Last year, Paddy McKillen Jnr's Press Up Group - along with a division of the New York-based real estate firm Rockefeller Group and Core Capital - snapped up the site on Dublin's O'Connell Street for around €63m in a deal with the Natrium consortium.

New accounts filed by Natrium Ltd show that Ms Foley would have received €3.29m in dividends before tax from the firm's €16.49m dividend payout, based on her 20pc shareholding of the business.

London-based Cheyne Capital received the vast bulk of the dividend payout at €13.19m arising from its 80pc share of Natrium.

It is now more than four years since Ms Foley, as the public face of Natrium, found herself at the centre of controversy over the contentious purchase and subsequent shock closure of the famous Dublin department store.

Natrium bought the department store for €29m from US group Gordon Brothers in June 2015. But soon afterwards 130 Clerys employees and 330 people working for concession holders lost their jobs with the closure of the store.

Natrium subsequently secured planning permission for a €150m mixed-use development and the new owner, the Press Up Group, is continuing with construction work on Clerys Quarter today, which is expected to provide more than 400 jobs when complete.

The accounts for Natrium show that it last year repaid the outstanding balance of €2.3m to Ms Foley's FAM Assets Ltd as a result of a loan of €1.9m advanced by FAM Assets Ltd to Natrium in 2015. In addition, €600,000 which was owing by Natrium to Ms Foley's FAM Assets in prior years was repaid last year.

The accounts also show Natrium paid Ms Foley's FAM Acquisitions Ltd €395,536 for services provided in the 12 months to the end of last November.

The controversy around the circumstances of the redundancies has resulted in a number of court proceedings, including two High Court judicial review cases.

Last year, a District Court judge struck out all remaining summonses against Ms Foley concerning the redundancies.

A note in the accounts states that Natrium is obliged to reimburse legal costs incurred by directors and Ms Foley has sought an indemnity from the company in respect of all legal costs associated with all legal proceedings.

Natrium states that it established a legal provision last year of €436,725 as an estimate of the likely legal bill and the amount paid during the year was €239,926.

Two companies in the Natrium consortium, OCS Investment Holdings Ltd and connected firm OCS Properties Ltd, recorded profits of €38.9m and €11.18m respectively last year.

Irish Independent

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