Wednesday 24 January 2018

Ronan revealed as investor who part-owns Bewleys site

Developer Johnny Ronan. Photo: Collins
Developer Johnny Ronan. Photo: Collins
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Developer Johnny Ronan, not NAMA or its liquidators, is one of the investors still behind the company that owns the landmark Bewleys building on Dublin's Grafton Street, the Irish Independent has learned.

The iconic cafe is currently at the centre of a legal dispute over a €1.5m-a-year rent bill.

Bewleys, part of multi-nation food group Aramark, is disputing the terms of an "upwards" only rent agreement that it signed with its landlord Ickendel Ltd.

Under the terms of the deal, rent for the cafe doubled to €1.5m from €750,000 a year following a rent review in 2007 – at the height of the boom.

The case has been heard at the High Court and a ruling is pending.

Papers filed with the Companies Office in Dublin show that Ickendel Ltd is co-owned by high-profile developer Mr Ronan and businessman John Conlon.

The company's loans are in NAMA but the state agency does not control the business, the Irish Independent understands.

Mr Ronan's involvement will surprise many observers after much of his once-vast property empire was seized by receivers and liquidators appointed by lenders, including NAMA, over hundreds of millions in unpaid property loans.

These included his stake in the huge Treasury Holdings venture he controlled alongside Richard Barrett which is now in liquidation.

Ickendel Ltd is in NAMA but is not subject to "enforcement action" such as liquidation or receivership, however.

Loans secured on the Grafton Street property were transferred to NAMA in 2010. It only takes direct control of properties or appoints liquidators and receivers over buildings if the company that is the borrower is behind on its loans. If not, the agency's role is little different to that of any other lender.

There is no suggestion that Ickendel Ltd has defaulted on its loans of €21m owed to the agency.

Irish Independent

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