A High Court judge will decide next month whether to continue or discharge two injunctions arising from a bitter dispute between the development company run by Johnny Ronan and its co-investor in three planned developments in Dublin with an estimated total value of €1bn.
Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) last Friday obtained an interim injunction against its co-investor, Digital Bridge Inc, formerly Colony Capital, restraining the completion of the sale of its stakes in the developments to US group Fortress Investment.
The developments are the mixed residential and commercial development, the Waterfront, on Dublin’s docklands; Facebook’s new European headquarters at Fibonacci Square, in Ballsbridge; and the Spencer Place development in the docklands that includes a headquarters tower for tech firm Salesforce and a luxury hotel, the Samuel, to be operated by the Dalata Group.
Just a week earlier, RGRE secured another interim injunction restraining Digital Bridge appointing a receiver over the Waterfront assets arising from an alleged €317m debt.
On Wednesday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald agreed that the receiver injunction and the later injunction, the ‘change of control’ injunction, essentially arose from the same set of facts.
He fixed November 23 for the hearing of applications by RGRE aimed at having both injunctions remain in place pending the full hearing of the dispute between RGRE on the one side and DigitalBridge/Fortress on the other.
The judge continued both injunctions pending the November 23 hearing.
The dispute stems from an agreement this year by Digital Bridge to jettison its non-digital assets, agreeing a $2.7bn (€2.3bn) transaction to sell its European property assets to Fortress. Digital Bridge’s joint ventures with RGRE are proposed to be wrapped into that deal, over objections from Mr Ronan.
RGRE claims this breaches an oral agreement reached with Digital Bridge last December to sell its interests in the Dublin developments to a consortium backed by South African institutional investors.
In an affidavit seeking the change of control injunction last week, RGRE CEO Rory Williams said RGRE had a good relationship with Colony for many years built on the close personal relationship between Mr Ronan and Tom Barrack, founder of Colony and its former CEO.
Both he and Mr Ronan are “surprised and disappointed” at the attitude of Marc Ganzi, the new CEO of Colony, who had texted Mr Ronan saying: “I have no idea what deal you cut with Tom [Mr Barrack] but to be clear Tom is gone and anything not in writing doesn’t exist”, Mr Williams said.