Monday 22 July 2019

Manor Park's Joe Moran to rebuild empire

New beginning as developer returns to market

VETERAN: 79-year-old Joe Moran says he’s starting up again
VETERAN: 79-year-old Joe Moran says he’s starting up again

Nick Webb

Veteran deal-maker Joe Moran has returned to house-building with Moran Park Homes, just over three years after his Manor Park Homes collapsed with debts of €170m during the crash.

The maverick Moran was one of the highest profile and most successful businessmen of the 1980s and 1990s, running the stock market listed IWP as well as chairing financial services group IFG.

The Kerryman teamed up with Jim Flavin and DCC to turn Manor Park Homes into one of the biggest house-builders in the country, breaking records when it spent €45m to buy Charles Haughey's estate at Abbeville in 2003.

In late 2007 Moran spent around €172m to buy DCC's 49pc stake in the building firm just before the financial crisis erupted. However, the collapse in the property market, coupled with large debts, saw a receiver appointed to the company by Bank of Scotland in October 2011.

"I did the wrong deal with [DCC's] Jim Flavin," Moran told the Sunday Independent. "I should have sold and not bought."

"I'm starting up again. My son John and daughter Adrienne are running the show," he said.

Moran Park has built a number of houses in the upmarket suburb of Blackrock and is working on planning permission for a new development in Glenageary in South Dublin.

"It's going reasonably well, but the problem is getting good sites. Sites are getting expensive." Moran said that the company plans to build "nine or 10" houses this year, with 20 next year before levelling off at around 40 to 50 homes after that. "I might push it a bit further though," he said.

When it starts to build at full capacity it would see Moran Park become one of the bigger home construction players in the country.

Moran said he decided to return to the property market and house-building about two years ago. "We were working with the receiver and offered to do it, but Lloyds' just wanted to get out, so we started ourselves."

AIB and BoI are helping finance the Moran Park developments, though the family is providing the bulk of the funding. "We have put in a certain amount ourselves. The banks are much better than 12 months ago," he said. "There are restrictions though. We have to put up about 80pc of it [the cost of a site]."

Moran said he had invested "a fair bit. But my children want me to put in more".

Moran's previous home- building empire, centred around Manor Park homes, went into receivership when the firm was unable to repay around €170m in debt to Bank of Scotland (Ireland) - part of the Lloyds' Banking group. Moran said he has spent the last few years working with the bank and the receiver to pay back the company debts.

"The only bank that got caught was Lloyds', but it worked out well for them. We had a good agreement and paid back every creditor and all the banks. We paid every creditor near enough to par," he said.

He is positive about the residential market, despite the recent fall in prices.

"Houses are up by 25pc to 30pc, but they were down 50pc to 60pc, so they are only down half way" he said. "I think the new Central Bank regulations - which are good - will stop things going mad again. I'd hate to see that happen. The market is stabilising and that is healthy."

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business