REO loses control of Battersea Power Station
REAL Estate Opportunities (REO), which is linked to developers Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett, was dealt a devastating blow yesterday as it lost control of the iconic Battersea Power Station project which it bought at the height of the property boom.
The decision to take the project from REO leaves NAMA with huge influence over the Battersea area along the River Thames, as fellow Irish developer and NAMA debtor Sean Mulryan is developing the nearby Nine Elms site.
In addition, it is understood a deal between REO and NAMA covering other debts is not close to agreement and further talks will be needed before NAMA signs off on any final debt plan.
Lloyds Banking Group and NAMA went to the High Court in London yesterday to wrest control of the site from REO, which owned 54pc of the company controlling the site.
Treasury Holdings is the majority shareholder of REO and was also the "development manager'' of the power station site, for which it was paid a fee. It is not clear if the Treasury contract will continue under the new arrangements.
Ironically as REO lost control of the project, Mr Mulryan was meeting the deputy lord mayor of London, Edward Lister, in an attempt to advance the Nine Elms site.
A key retail tenant, Waitrose, has expressed an interest in becoming part of the development.
NAMA for its part said it was a "difficult decision'' to apply for administration (the UK equivalent of receivership) but it hoped the step would progress the sale of the site.
Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, is among the potential buyers.
Ernst & Young will try and sell the site on behalf of NAMA and Lloyds. The site stopped producing electricity from coal in 1983 and several other developers have tried to develop the site since the 1980s.
However NAMA and Lloyds had demanded repayment of £324m (€383m) of debt on the site, triggering yesterday's court hearing.
REO had been trying frantically over recent days to pull off a last-minute deal for the site without success.