Business Irish

Sunday 8 December 2019

Derek Quinlan slashes debts by €3bn through major asset sales

Former tax inspector repays 19 banks and Nama

QUINLAN: He is now based in Abu Dhabi
QUINLAN: He is now based in Abu Dhabi

Nick Webb

High profile property investor Derek Quinlan has reduced his debts by more than €3bn through a series of asset sales over the last five years.

This is the biggest single repayment of debt by a single borrower owed to the National Asset Management Agency and other banks.

It is understood that the debt racked up by the Quinlan empire reached €3.5bn, although some of that was as part of partnerships rather than direct exposure.

Quinlan and his advisers have paid debts owed to 19 banks, including Barclays and RBS as well as Nama. Most of Quinlan's Irish debt was borrowed from the former Anglo Irish Bank, AIB and Bank of Ireland. Reduction of his massive debts represents a major win for the Irish taxpayer, which bailed out the banks to the tune of €63bn.

Abu Dhabi-based Quinlan was one of the highest profile Celtic Tiger property tycoons. He brought together some of Ireland's wealthiest investors to finance dramatic deals such as the €1.1bn buyout of the Savoy hotel group in 2004.

Quinlan's backers in various deals included Riverdance tycoons John McColgan and Moya Doherty, Lochlann Quinn, and the Bermuda-based Green family (who invested in the hotels).

Some of Quinlan's best known deals included the purchase of the Santander headquarters in Madrid, the Knightsbridge estate in London, and the Citigroup skyscraper in the capital.

Many of these assets have now been sold as part of a debt reduction programme arranged by Quinlan and his advisor Gerry Murphy.

The sale of €771m worth of debt relating to the Maybourne hotel in September 2011 to the Barclay brothers was the biggest single repayment, with Nama repaid the full value of the borrowings. Nama is also thought to have received €300m from the restructuring of ownership and loans associated with the Citigroup tower, which reduced Quinlan's debt by €673m in May 2013.

The €609m Carraig partnership debt on the Knightbridge estate in London was also repaid to a syndicate of banks. Other sales included the €176m Audley square garage in Mayfair, and the €100m refinancing of the A&L Goodbody building in Dublin's IFSC. There were also asset sales ranging from Malibu and Georgia to New York and Shrewsbury Road in Dublin.

This weekend, a source close to Quinlan told the Sunday Independent: "The country needs to get going again and you can't do this without developers and financiers. We actually need Nama to allow the likes of Johnny Ronan and Derek Quinlan to get back to work and start spending money and create employment in the Irish economy. If they make this money abroad and bring it back all the better."

"Derek has reduced his debts by an enormous €3bn over the last five years and he has sorted all his banks with the exception of Nama with whom he is cooperating fully."

'Nama had a job to do in very difficult circumstances and they probably were probably right in what they did at the time but they now need to allow the financiers and developers to get back to work and create employment and sustainable growth."

"Michael Noonan gave the red carpet treatment to Donald Trump. He was right to do so. The Minister also needs to recognise that Irish developers and financiers will make a positive contribution to the Irish economy going forward"

"Anger is no strategy and we simply must get the likes of Derek Quinlan back to work. NAMA have the power to make this happen and the sooner they do so the better. Mistakes have been made bit big lessons have been learned."

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