Business Irish

Sunday 17 December 2017

ICG chair McGuckian eyes €900m Ulster loan book

MOVE: John McGuckian. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
MOVE: John McGuckian. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Roisin Burke

Irish Continental Group chairman and multimillionaire industrialist John McGuckian is believed to be attempting to refinance loans attached to a substantial Irish and British property portfolio being sold off by Ulster Bank.

The property loans are connected with two companies said to be controlled by McGuckian and Ken Cheevers, one of the North's richest men, and Ulster Bank is attempting to sell the debt, which is attached to a valuable collection of properties, for over €900m.

In tandem with that sales process, McGuckian and Cheevers are believed to be trying to refinance some of the choicest parts of the portfolio, seeking to raise millions and team with other investors to support a buyback.

Worth an estimated €40m, McGuckian is chairman of ferry group ICG and a director of investor TVC and a former UTV chairman. His Cooneen Defence business makes military clothing, including bomb-proof underpants, for the US army.

The collection of Irish and British shopping centres was said by Ulster Bank to be the UK's biggest single retail property deal in over a decade when it took place in 2006 and includes substantial retail properties in Dundalk, the North, England and Scotland, and includes some of the North's top-performing shopping centres.

Ulster Bank is engaged in selling off its Irish commercial property loan books and reducing down its exposure in Ireland as part of a €11bn loan sell-off.

It is likely to put hotel assets on the market, including the former Sean Dunne-owned Jury's and the Berkeley Court in Ballsbridge in Dublin this year, and has hired investment bank Eastdil to advise on the sale of another €1.5bn property portfolio.

Ulster Bank said last week that 35 per cent of its €6.5bn small business loan book is distressed.

McGuckian chaired UTV until 2012 when the board voted in favour of his removal because of his close association with Shane Rehill's TVC investment fund, which it said compromised his independence due to TVC's 18 per cent stake in UTV. He had been on the board of the Northern Irish broadcaster since 1970.

Sunday Indo Business

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