Friday 16 November 2018

Pearson to bid soon for Taggart

Michael Taggart was the flamboyant face of the firm, whose assets are understood to include three helicopters
Michael Taggart was the flamboyant face of the firm, whose assets are understood to include three helicopters

John Mulligan

Wicklow-born businessman Stuart Pearson is likely to table a multi-million euro bid for troubled construction firm Taggart Holdings within a matter of weeks in a deal that will see both Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank take uncomfortable hits on their significant loans to the Derry-based company, informed sources confirmed yesterday.

One of the country's largest developers, Taggart Holdings and some of its subsidiaries were placed in administration last month following a petition by Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland.

It's been estimated that Taggart's debt pile could be as high as €200m. Anglo Irish Bank is also owed a significant amount of money from the construction firm, but was not party to the petition to place Taggart Holdings under administration.

Mr Pearson, who is just 24 and inherited a sizeable estate a number of years ago, has recently completed a lucrative development in New York that generated a return in the region of €600m. Mr Pearson is thought to be keen to move quickly on Taggart Holdings, according to sources.

However, any offer is unlikely to cover most of the three banks' exposure to the Taggart group. Accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) is still trawling through the Taggart books to determine the full extent of its debts. Mr Pearson held a meeting yesterday in Dundalk with members of the PWC team.

Taggart Holdings was founded by brothers Michael and John Taggart in 1989, and was under duress for a number of months.

Michael Taggart was the flamboyant face of the firm, whose assets are understood to include three helicopters.

Negotiations to acquire Taggart Holdings' assets are not likely to be straightforward due to the complexity of some of the deals it entered into with groups such as Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Last year Goodbody Stockbrokers raised about £34m (€50m at the time) from its private clients to enter into a joint venture with Taggart Holdings to acquire an 87-acre site about six miles from Belfast on which the construction firm planned to build almost 800 dwellings. That was also backed by Anglo Irish Bank.

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