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Nick Webb: Ireland's great and good get hosed at NTR

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An artist's rendering of the Chicago skyline as it would appear with the 150-story Spire in the center. Developer Garrett Kelleher is counting on a weak dollar and the cachet of living in the world's tallest condominium tower to market the Chicago Spire. It may be a hard sell.   Source: Weber Shandwick via Bloomberg News

An artist's rendering of the Chicago skyline as it would appear with the 150-story Spire in the center. Developer Garrett Kelleher is counting on a weak dollar and the cachet of living in the world's tallest condominium tower to market the Chicago Spire. It may be a hard sell. Source: Weber Shandwick via Bloomberg News

An artist's rendering of the Chicago skyline as it would appear with the 150-story Spire in the center. Developer Garrett Kelleher is counting on a weak dollar and the cachet of living in the world's tallest condominium tower to market the Chicago Spire. It may be a hard sell. Source: Weber Shandwick via Bloomberg News

Tom Roche's convoluted wheeze to take €160m energy investment group NTR private could see long- suffering shareholders take a hit.

Along with One51 and Nick Furlong's Pageant Holdings, Roche has been working on a deal to sell his US operations to fund a share buyback scheme that would effectively buyout the 2,000 or so NTR shareholders. Shares have fallen from a peak of €6.75 in December 2007 to just €1.60 last week.

NTR has attracted the backing of the great and good of Irish business but hardly any of them will be slapping themselves on the back.

Louis Fitzgerald, the financier who made a fortune from backing Eddie O'Connor in Airtricity and Mainstream Renewable has 6,636 shares worth €10,600. Construction tycoon David Crampton of the G&E Crampton building dynasty has 2,000 shares. Rainmaker Adrian Jones has 37,801 shares valued at €60,500.

Fruit magnate Frederick Keeling has 11,813 shares worth about €18,900. TCD geneticist David McConnell is another shareholder. Builder Sean McKeon of MKN is listed as holding 3,132 shares. The O'Connor family, which sold out of Arnotts during the boom, has almost 11,000 shares valued at €17,600.

The extended Roche and Doyle families, who made fortunes from CRH and the Jurys Doyle hotels, are also big holders. Eileen Monahan and her family have over 18,000 shares, with her sister Anne Roche holding 516,960 shares worth €827,000. Conor Roche and his siblings have €2.1m worth of shares - once worth €8.8m. Ouch. Animal pharma entrepreneur Donal Tierney and his family owned Cross Pharma have over 130,000 shares valued at about €210,000.

But not everyone who bought NTR has suffered pain.

Glen Dimplex boss Sean O'Driscoll is a new name on the NTR share register, holding 3,915 shares since January last year. They are worth about €6,300 as the share price has risen five fold since then. Timing in this game is everything.

 

Deal may yet save Garrett's Spire from Miami Dolphins owner

Developer turned movie mogul and football club owner Garrett Kelleher is getting closer to ending the logjam over his vast Chicago Spire project, which was probably the most ambitious residential project ever undertaken by an Irish builder.

It's a process that has bought the St Patrick's Athletic owner into the crosshairs of one of America's richest men - Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Last week Judge Janet S Baer of the US Bankruptcy Court in Chicago signed off on Kelleher's disclosure statement, which means creditors can now start to vote on the restructuring plan that aims to pay of his debts and allow work to start on the skyscraper.

Creditors will receive ballots in coming weeks after a court hearing to rubber-stamp details later this week.

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The Spire was launched in a glitzy party in Dublin with Hollywood A-lister Liam Neeson cutting the ribbon. However the economic crash stalled the project, leaving a 76 foot deep hole in the centre of Chicago.

Anglo Irish Bank was the biggest lender to the project, with the loans subsequently being transferred to Nama.

US fund Related, owned by US billionaire and Miami Dolphins owner Ross, bought a chunk of the debt and tried to force Kelleher's Shelbourne North Water Street firm into an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding. However a refinancing deal with another fund Atlas Apartment Holdings may buyout the debt from Related, which may see the project back up and running.

 

Former Elan boss Martin scores another big buyout

You've got to hand it to Kelly Martin. The former Merrill Lynch banker turned pharma boss is now a magnet for billion dollar deals.

Having netted close to €40m personally from the €6.3bn sale of Elan to Perrigo last year, Martin (a doppelgänger of Norm from iconic TV comedy Cheers) has done it again. Last week US drug giant Mallinckrodt inked a deal to buy rival QCor for a cool $5.6bn as the frenzy of M&A ramps up in the drug industry.

Martin joined the board of QCor in November last year. Having sold Elan for such a big cheque, he was lumped straight onto a strategic committee to handle the sale process to Mallinckrodt.

The deal sees Qcor shareholders get $30 in cash per share and 0.9 of a Mallinckrodt share to sell out. Latest filings for the buyout deal show that Martin owned 3,843 shares, which nets him €88,000 in cash plus shares worth around €210,000. There are also unvested options and restricted stock units.

Martin joined Elan in 2003, when the Irish drug company was going through the wringer because of heavy levels of debt and an intensive focus on its aggressive accountancy practices.

Martin slashed costs, tidied up the balance sheet and tarted the business up for sale, with Forest and Perrigo ending up in a shoot out for the company. The €6.3bn deal was Ireland's largest ever takeover and kept corporate lawyers and bankers in Krug for the rest of the year.

With Ireland right in the centre of the pharma tax inversion sweet spot, Elan's new owner Perrigo could find itself part of another mega deal. Belgian drug firm Omega is the latest name in the mix for a spot of coupling.

 

Murtagh backs Ulster for Cup after Kingspan deal

Kingspan's Gene Murtagh is backing Ulster to win the Heineken Cup - or whatever its called - next season.

Kingspan has forked out a packet for the naming rights of the recently renamed Ravenhill Stadium. Traditionally Kingspan is seen as more of a GAA company, with Gene's uncle Brendan was an accomplished inter county footballer back in the day.

"We're multi-sport," Gene told me last week. "At the end of the day its about brand and brand exposure and Ulster are up and coming." It also helped that Kingspan products were used in building the new stadium.

Along with the vast British intelligence listening centre of GCHQ in Cheltenham and one of the world's biggest roofs at Abu Dhabi Airport, it means that Kingspan products are now in some of the world's most recognisable buildings.

It's all humming nicely for Murtagh, who counts Al Gore's Generation Investment Management as one of its biggest shareholders. Murtagh and Gore have hooked up a couple of times but the former US presidential candidate, Nobel prize and Oscar winner has yet to make it up to Kingscourt, Cavan just yet. He'd pass a recovering economy on the way.

"If we were an exclusively Irish business I'd be very optimistic," Murtagh told me last week. "There's no question about it, activity is going the right way in both non-residential and residential.


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