Monday 20 May 2019

Nick Webb: Kelleher helps out with the FAI debt deal

Developer Garrett Kelleher at the launch of the Chicago Spire project in 2008
Developer Garrett Kelleher at the launch of the Chicago Spire project in 2008
WHAT'S COOKING? John and Patrick Collison in their San Franciso home

Nick Webb

Chicago Spire developer and movie-maker Garrett Kelleher has emerged as one of the key power brokers in the deal to refinance the FAI's €50m-plus debt associated with the building of the Aviva Stadium.

Behind the schemes, Irish billionaires Denis O'Brien and Dermot Desmond were also involved in helping the FAI.

"I'm delighted to have been able to help," Kelleher told me from Chicago last week. "I'm passionate about football and the League of Ireland and I've a lot of respect for John Delaney. He's done a great job in putting the FAI on a more stable footing."

It is understood that Kelleher, who bought league of Ireland team St Patrick's Athletic in 2006, approached FAI boss John Delaney to see if he could help with the organisation's finances. In late 2011, he was given access to FAI ledgers and given a mandate to seek alternative financing. It was an unpaid mandate.

This saw Kelleher nudge a number of 'unconventional' banking sources and dance closely with an unnamed German institution. But a deal didn't materialise.

Stewart Doyle of QED Equity, part of Dermot Desmond's financial empire, also got involved, and relationships with private equity houses and other financiers were tapped. US private equity group KKR was brought to the table and the FAI was able to wrangle a €12.5m writedown on its €50m-plus stadium debt. Even better was the lowering of its interest costs and a less scary capital repayment schedule. The likelihood is that the FAI will be able to refinance the debt again in the next couple of years.

"I have to say one thing. Dermot Desmond and Garrett Kelleher – both of them were very helpful in terms of opening doors," FAI boss Delaney told me in the Merrion Hotel last week. "It wasn't that difficult to find a partner. We looked at a few."

With the banks sorted, all he needs to do now is find a replacement for Robbie.

Collisons' home comforts are far more modest than you'd expect

SO what kind of gaff would you have if you owned one of the hottest start-ups on the block? One that's been valued at $1.75bn or upwards?

Well, Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison, who set up online payments firm live in a "modest two-bedroom apartment" in San Francisco's fashionable Mission district. The brothers moved in a year ago.

"The caveat with all this is Patrick and I have not finished furnishing this place properly, which is why there's that bag of stuff and an Ikea desk and a bunch of outside furniture that we've been sitting on inside," Patrick told the FT House & Home last week. The principal bit of furniture is a dark brown sofa from Ikea dating back to 2010. "They don't sell it anymore," John said. "It's like hipster Ikea."

While the brothers' bedrooms are bang next door to each other, the apartment also features a number of white mattresses stacked up against a wall. These are "ready for use by employees who need a place to stay when visiting San Francisco from Stripe's UK or Australia offices, or moving to the city to start work." Crashing at your boss's pad isn't a normal thing to do for most businesses. But then again isn't exactly a normal company.

Porno clients need their Goodbody to get ahead

A&L Goodbody may well be the country's most blue-blooded of legal firms.

The notoriously low-profile IFSC-based litigators have been involved in some of the biggest deals in recent years, ranging from Ryanair's attempted takeover of Aer Lingus, Babcock & Brown's €3.7bn deal for Eircom, Endo's $1.6bn buyout of Paladin and Three's €750m purchase of O2 Ireland.

The firm, led by ace lawyer Julian Yarr, was the top-ranked mergers and acquisition firm last year.

Some of these deals are trumpeted on the firm's website. But not all of them.

There is no room at all to mention A&L Goodbody's role advising Manwin – one of the world's biggest porno companies, which has set up a number of companies in Ireland.

The company owns some of the biggest porno websites in the world including YouPorn, Pornhub, Tube8, XTube, ExtremeTube, JuicyBoys, Webcams, KeezMovies, Tranny Surprise, and SpankWire, which are thought to generate close to 16 billion hits a month.

Manwin was also behind a short-lived games studio in the silicon docks, which was quietly pared back just before Christmas.

In a letter to the Companies Registration Office last month, on its headed note paper, A&L Goodbody wrote: "We will be acting as solicitors for the newly named companies – MG Content DP ltd, MG Content RT ltd and MG Content RK ltd."

Funny how A&L Goodbody didn't feel that it was worth shouting about.

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