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Liam Lawlor's son is Irish agent for American bond behemoth Ranieri

Niall Lawlor, son of Fianna Fail legend Liam Lawlor, is a central figure in US bond titan Ranieri's hunt for Irish assets.

Ranieri pulled out of buying the Ritz Carlton at the 11th hour but is looking at other Irish buys though a substantial Dublin office presence.

Lawlor works for Ranieri Financial Services Leeson (RFSL), which is 50/50 owned by Ranieri Financial Services in New York and Irish outfit Leeson Finance. Lawlor has worked for Ranieri in the States and is an RFSL director.

RFSL's Irish share is owned by Jim Byrne of property investment group Mere Capital, which was involved in several developments around the country.

Byrne owns Leeson Finance, which is seeking to invest around €100m in medium-sized distressed and non-performing loan portfolios, according to its website, which suggests it is pursuing Nama and other bombed bank loan books.

RFSL's stated aim is also to buy up Irish loan books.

Neither Lawlor nor Byrne were contactable before going to press.

Lawlor has been a director at Ranieri since 2010.

He formerly worked for Californian investment bank Chilton O'Connor which had IFSC presence in Ireland in the Nineties and planned to finance a sports stadium here at one stage.

Lawlor was involved in Ranieri's abortive Ritz Carlton bid. It pulled away from a deal to buy the 200-bed hotel on which the controlling company owed €47m to Nama following complications in negotiating with the 100-plus unit owning investors.

The Ritz Carlton hotel loan and asset was bought by Brehon Capital and Midwest holdings, who also own the new five-star hotel at Grand Canal Quay in Dublin.

Brehon/Midwest are now seeking to buy either individual or a chain of mid-tier budget hotels.

Niall's father Liam was a central figure in the Mahon Tribunal, which investigated planning irregularities and corrupt payments to politicians. He died tragically in a car crash in Russia in 2005.

Ranieri was a major trader of the mortgage backed securities that played a huge part in the subprime property crash.

Irish Independent