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Former EBS chairmen invested with O'Donnell firm

TWO leading Irish businessmen, Brian Joyce and Mark Moran, are among a small group of investors who joined a Celtic Tiger couple that amassed a €1bn global property empire.

The two men, who are both former chairmen of the EBS building society, were part of a select group of Irish business figures who invested money with solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Pat in properties that spanned the globe. The couple owe Bank of Ireland €71.5m.

The identities of their co-investors have been a closely guarded secret.

The Irish Independent can reveal that Mr Joyce and Mr Moran, who made a fortune from the sale of their stake in the Mater Private Hospital in 2007, invested with the O'Donnells in some properties.

Mr Joyce told the Irish Independent yesterday that he would not "confirm or deny" his involvement with the O'Donnells' property company, Vico Capital.

Mr Moran said his only involvement with the couple was as part of Vico Capital's $172.5m (€132.5m) purchase of a tower in Washington DC in 2008.

The building, which is close to the White House, is described on the Vico Capital website as a 206,000 sq ft "trophy" property.

The two businessmen and other investors owned more than 50pc of the Mater Private hospital and received millions for their shares in a deal that valued the hospital at €350m.

Mr Joyce is a well-known businessman who has graced many semi-state boards, including CIE.

He has been associated with the warehousing and logistics company Norish, construction supplier, Kingspan and was chairman of the EBS until 2007.

He and Mr Moran are long-time business associates. Mr Moran became chief executive of the Mater Private in 1997 and held that position until 2006.

They are both still involved in many business ventures together in healthcare and other sectors.

Mr Moran joined Mr Joyce as a director of the EBS building society in 2003 and replaced him as chairman four years later. He resigned from that post in 2009 as the bust building society had to be bailed out to the tune of €900m.

Mr Moran has worked with the consultancy group Bankhawk, which works with companies to improve their relationships with their banks. Its clients include the HSE, Dublin City Council, Bord na Mona, Coillte, Mercer and Allianz.

He has also produced a report for the HSE on savings from the use of generic drugs.

The O'Donnells established Vico Capital in 2005 as a private property investment company buying up property for themselves and their investors.

Mr O'Donnell, a former managing partner at the big Dublin law firm, William Fry, did all of the wheeling and dealing and put complex financial arrangements together. As well as buying properties in the US and the UK, it also has interests in Sweden.

Irish Independent