Monday 11 December 2017

Nick Webb's diary: Ex-Nama Mulcahy's €2.5m in property shares

John Mulcahy
John Mulcahy

Former Nama executive John Mulcahy, who was once probably the most powerful player in the Irish property market, holds more than €2.5m in shares thanks to his new role as a board member of real estate investment group IPUT. He has made a fortune out of the property group since stepping down as Nama's head of asset management in February 2014.

Mulcahy "is the beneficial owner" of 2,941 "participating shares" in IPUT "through an approved retirement fund", according to IPUT. Based on the latest offer price of €853.14 per share last week, Mulcahy's stake is worth about €2.5m.

IPUT's annual report shows Mulcahy had 1,771 shares on the "date of appointment to the board" in July 2014. IPUT's offer price of €727 per share the previous month, valued that stake at around €1.28m.

The former Jones Lang LaSalle chief executive has a pivotal role in IPUT's buying strategy as he chairs its investment committee.

Despite Nama horsing out loan portfolios to buyers with big cheque books, insiders tell me that IPUT has never actually bought anything from Mulcahy's former employer.

Not directly. It did buy part of the €95m Carrickmines Park Retail Centre centre from Marathon Asset Management which had just bought it from Nama as part of a larger portfolio. Nama parcelled it up before selling it to Marathon, which flipped phase one of the development to IPUT last November.

IPUT, which is headed by Niall Gaffney, has had a jolly good year, making terrific returns for its shareholders. Net asset values at the fund have risen 75pc in a year. Mulcahy has done rather well out of his share investments in the past.

In April 2010, I revealed that he held 41,508 shares in his former employer Jones Lang LaSalle, which were then worth €2.3m.

This shareholding had been fully disclosed to Nama and the agency dismissed suggestions that it represented a conflict of interests.

If he has held on to those Jones Lang LaSalle shares, the super shrewd Mulcahy's holding will now be worth more than €6.14m.


Richardson set for €14m Wasps payout

Rugby-mad entrepreneur Derek Richardson, who sold Ireland's first online insurance firm to RSA for €82m in 2010, is reinventing the rugby club business model.

In 2013 he bought English premiership club Wasps, where Eoin Reddan used to line out, and is now on a roadshow to raise up to €48m through a new bond issuance for the club. The bulk of the new funds will be used to pay off borrowings to Coventry City Council, Close Brothers Finance and himself. Richardson will be repaid about half of the €28m he lent the club. The rest will be used to invest in building up the club's non-rugby activities such as its hotel, conference and events business. "We've broken the mould compared to other teams," he told me. Richardson is hoping that Wasps will generate two-thirds of its income from off-field activities, with just one-third coming from old-fashionedrugby.

"It's a new business model."

Richardson believes that the business of rugby is in its infancy and the sport will develop massively over the next decade.

"Our big mission is to spread our fan base. We believe it can go a long way," he added.


Nolan charts $100m path for xSellco

Gunslinging tech entrepreneur Ray Nolan has splashed out to buy rival Florida e-commerce firm ReplyManager in an audacious move that bulks up his fast-growing xSellco business.

ReplyManager is about five times the size of xSellco and the combined entity will now process about $4bn in online transactions. ReplyManager handles customer communications for online sellers ranging from major eBay outfits to smaller mom and pop retailers. This fits nicely into the xSellco embrace as it supplies the tech for online pricing and addressing post sale issues.

Over a coffee in the Merrion Hotel, Nolan told me: "This has real and visible ambitions to be a $100m-valued company in two years. It's ours to mess up."

Nolan built up Hostelworld for over €220m in 2009, so he's got a pretty good track record.

"This one I'd like to take all the way. There's no direct competition, it's like Hostelworld in that it's beautifully simple. We find a thing and take the pain out of it."

Nolan has funded the majority of xSellco's development, which has cost around €2m.

Following a restructuring late last year, he returned to run the company as chief executive, although he's just hired Victor Corcoran (Betfair boss Breon Corcoran's brother) to run the show. xSellco is sucking diesel and grew by 70pc in the last two months.


Dealmaker with golden touch strikes again

Basil Geoghegan, the Dublin dealmaker who has torn up trees at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, has moved again.

The Citigroup managing director has joined New York-based boutique bank PJT Partners.

Geoghegan advised on some of the country's biggest recent deals and buyouts including the €1.6bn Avolon IPO, the €1bn sale of BGE to Centrica, the Aer Lingus flotation, the Valentia takeover of Eircom and the epic €1bn battle to take Jurys Doyle private.

Private equity group Blackstone is spinning off its advisory business which will merge with PJT partners later this year to create a bumper new player in the dealmaking arena.

Former Morgan Stanley high-flier Paul Taubman, the chairman and chief executive of the new partnership, hired Geoghegan as well as two other top dealmakers from JP Morgan and UBS.

Geoghegan made it all the way to the top of icy Mount Everest four years ago and more importantly he got back down again in one piece. He may find scaling the peaks of the Wall Street dealmaking business that bit easier.

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