Thursday 14 December 2017

Kavanagh won praise for ripping up rulebook but faced multiple lawsuits

The young Wicklow man led a huge investment in property while the economy was still in tatters

Neptune House, a Georgian Villa in Blackrock, Co Dublin, which was previously owned by the American philanthropist Chuck Feeney and was due to be redeveloped
Neptune House, a Georgian Villa in Blackrock, Co Dublin, which was previously owned by the American philanthropist Chuck Feeney and was due to be redeveloped
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Developer Greg Kavanagh has stood down several lawsuits in recent years.

His former business partner Fred Daly issued proceedings against him in the High Court in February.

A solicitor for Daly declined to comment. However reports indicate Daly was previously involved in a consortium put together by Kavanagh to invest in a number of Wicklow sites.

According to the website of the Courts Service, two other lawsuits issued against him personally were recently discontinued.

His dispute with the Foxrock-based Kiely family, meanwhile, which centred around projects in Stillorgan and Phibsboro, was also settled earlier this year. Details of the settlement never came to light.

The developer has said he and the Kielys, who have interests in the healthcare sector, were back on good terms.

An unknown in the property scene until around 2012, the now 31-year-old Kavanagh entered the sector market at speed in the wake of the recession. He started making money, while still in school, as a day trader. By his mid-20s he was spearheading a major gamble on the Irish economic and property recovery while the market was still in the doldrums.

His company New Generation Homes spent about €300m snapping up land in Dublin's hinterland as prices were only just beginning to recover, securing finance entirely from private equity rather than loans.

Backers have included e-learning tycoon Pat McDonagh, Starwood Capital and the Pacific investment vehicle of British investor Sir John Beckwith.

Now New Generation's sole backer is M&G, the investment fund owned by insurance giant Prudential. The company recently moved to sell some of its asset pile, seeking a buyer for a range of Dublin sites with a valuation of around €250m as the capital faces down an acute property shortage.

In 2015 only 12,600 new houses were completed, against an estimated need for 21,000. This is placing huge pressure on the private rented sector and increasing demand for social housing.

Richard Barrett's Bartra Capital is believed to be bidding. The portfolio is thought to contain sites in locations in Dublin, including Foxrock, Killiney, Howth, Blackrock, Harold's Cross, Rathmichael, Saggart, Cabra, Baldoyle, Coolock, Finglas, Cabinteely and Dundrum. The La Touche Hotel in Greystones, the Europa site in Blackrock and Stanford House on Westminster Road are also thought to be part of the portfolio.

But Kavanagh has said his firm is still in the market for new developments. It recently emerged as underbidder on a six-acre site at Spencer Dock in the north Dublin Docklands, behind Johnny Ronan and Colony Capital.

The site was owned by Treasury Holdings before the company collapsed.

Sunday Indo Business

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