Sunday 17 December 2017

The lavish playgrounds where Nama 10 frolicked

From villas in Marbella to trophy homes, the excesses of developers are staggering. Lucky for them Nama came along, writes Liam Collins

SAINT Valentine's night in Venice, villas in Marbella, brownstones in Manhattan, trophy homes in Dublin 4, and stud farms and golf courses in Kildare and Meath -- these are the playgrounds of the Nama 10.

More than €16bn in loans linked to the Nama 10 are being moved to the controversial agency, out of a total of €80bn that will eventually be transferred. But who are these people?

1 & 2 Johnny Ronan & Richard Barrett

A flamboyant, bearded tycoon, Dublin's original developer actually owns the office block -- the Treasury Building -- in which Nama is housed.

Originally from a wealthy Tipperary land-owning family, Ronan formed a partnership with Richard Barrett and through Treasury Holdings they became the original Irish 'developers'. He drives an enormous Maybach, which is frequently to be found outside Patrick Guilbaud's, where he lunches on a Friday. A high-profile social animal, his relationship with the model Glenda Gilson became a staple of the gossip columns.

He owns an estate near Enniskerry in Co Wicklow, where he lived with his wife Mary and also owns what is known as 'the pink palace' on Burlington Road, Dublin 4, which is frequently rented out to such film stars as Andi McDowell when they are visiting Dublin.

Ronan and Barrett own Battersea Power Station in London, which they are in the process of redeveloping.

Richard Barrett, who comes from a family of Sligo merchants, is regarded as the cultural half of the formidable partnership, with a love of art and fine wine.

Barrett now spends much of his time in Shanghai, China, where Treasury Holdings and their publicly quoted firm Real Estate Holdings (REO) are believed to have developments worth over a billion euro. However, the impending descent into Nama didn't deter Johnny Ronan from staying in a palazzo in Venice for St Valentine's night.

3 Liam Carroll

THE 'shy' tycoon could never be accused of flaunting his wealth -- even when he had it.

A bookie's son from Dundalk, Co Louth, he currently lives in a modest home in Mount Merrion, Co Dublin, with his wife Roisin and drove a battered Volvo before switching to a jeep. He was obsessed about doing bigger and bigger deals.

He first came to public notice with 'shoebox' apartments along the Liffey Quays, and then set out to transform the skyline of Dublin city itself. He fell out with other developers, getting into prolonged and costly legal disputes with Noel Smyth, 'The Bomber' McFeely and Sean Dunne.

He also invested unwisely in public companies like Irish Continental Group (ICG) and lost vast amounts of cash.

His Zoe group went into examinership with debts estimated at €1.2bn, but it was finally put into liquidation by ACC bank after a prolonged legal battle which yo-yoed up and down to the Supreme Court.

At one stage, Carroll's entire plan for the future of the company was contained in a one-page submission, but the courts found that he had not properly costed some aspects of the survival plan. Tragically, the pressure of the collapse of his empire appeared to have a devastating effect on Carroll's health and he was hospitalised for a time. He has vast amounts of finished and unfinished property which will now go into Nama.

4 Bernard McNamara

THE toast of the 'Marbella set', Bernard owns an opulent home on the Spanish resort's gold coast, as well as a vast pile on Ailesbury Road, a holiday home in Kilrush and a New York pad in the Plaza Hotel (in his wife Moira's name).

As befitting a Fianna Fail councillor who 'made good', he had a yacht in Marbella, a helicopter and drove a top-of-the-range Mercedes. But for all this ostentatious wealth, he was not personally flamboyant. He blended into the background at his legendary parties in the Radisson Hotel during Galway Race week. He came to Dublin to launch his building firm, Michael McNamara & Co, and quickly branched out, becoming the biggest developer in the city.

For a couple of years before disaster struck, no deal was too big or too small as the banks piled cash into his ventures -- from pubs to supermarket chain Quinnsworth to massive developments. But when the bubble burst, he was stuck with the infamous Glass Bottle site in Dublin and it's been downhill ever since.

He has a huge amount of property, including the award-winning but virtually empty Elm Park development in south Dublin, and a share in the money-pit Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, both of which will be going into Nama.

5 Gerry Gannon

Known as "the man in the hat", Gerry came up from Roscommon to try his hand at block-laying in Dublin. Gruff and hard-working, he soon built his building firm into an empire through Gannon Homes and then became a developer.

He has developed a huge swathe of Dublin, but it was the purchase of Belcamp on the north side and The Casino site in Malahide that appears to have put him under.

He lives in some splendour in Howth, Co Dublin, with his wife Margaret, and keeps a country estate, Hartley Manor in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, not far from where he grew up.

He is known to be extremely charitable toward causes he espouses. He entertains well but unostentatiously and mostly at home. His yacht blew up off Majorca a few years ago and he was lucky to escape with his life.

After buying a house in the K-Club he went on to buy a half share in the entire golf complex, near Sallins in Co Kildare, along with its founder Michael Smurfit, but is no longer supporting the club, which has led to some friction.

He was one of the so-called 'Anglo 10' who were so involved with the bank that they were called upon to put up €350m to buy Sean Quinn's 25 per cent share of the bank -- using 'non-recourse' loans, which meant the loans were guaranteed against the shares they held in Anglo Irish, which are now worth nothing.

6 Joe O'Reilly

Originally from Dromard in north Longford, he now lives in some style with his wife Deirdre in leafy Foxrock, Co Dublin, and likes to be chauffeured around in his luxury Mercedes.

O'Reilly got into the building game very successfully in Dublin and expanded his Castlethorn Construction into an empire with the assistance of his partner, the late Liam Maye. He also bought a huge tract of land in Lucan to develop into the new town of Adamstown, which came onto the market as the property boom turned to dust.

Like the others, he built up a relationship with Anglo Irish, who gave hundreds of millions in finance, and eventually built the massive Dundrum Shopping Centre, in south Co Dublin, which he owns outright. He extended his spending spree by buying the old Dundrum shopping centre nearby.

He has ploughed €200m into the luxury Kileen Castle golf complex in Co Meath which was designed by the great golfer Jack Nicklaus and is now destined for Nama. O'Reilly was also involved in developing what is know as the Carlton Site and has grandiose plans for Dublin's main street, O'Connell Street. He keeps away from the limelight, and even most of star-struck denizens of the upmarket club Residence wouldn't know him when he drops in for a late-night drink. Another member of the 'Anglo 10'.

7 Paddy McKillen

A Secretive tycoon who likes to stay as far away from the limelight as possible, McKillen started in the family business of DC Exhausts and then went on to develop a range of other businesses with partners as diverse as the property developer Johnny Ronan and the designer John Rocha. These ventures included clothing, restaurants -- and property.

His property venture with solicitor Ivor Fitzpatrick ended with them owning and developing a large chunk off Grafton Street.

Their partnership eventually turned sour, and when they fell out it led to unwelcome publicity and a high-profile legal case that was settled on the steps of the High Court.

McKillen has a vast property empire in Ireland, including the Jervis Centre off Henry Street in Dublin, and abroad he is believed to own prestigious property in Paris and a share in the Covent Garden complex which houses the Royal Opera House in London. But it was his involvement in various businesses in Vietnam, including a large quarrying operation, which also led to unwelcome publicity when two of his partners were jailed in what turned out to be a very murky affair.

He lives with his wife, the former model Maura McMenamin, in a massive pile on Torquay Road in Foxrock, South County Dublin, and also owned a house in the K-Club to which he commutes by helicopter. Another member of the 'Anglo 10'.

8 Sean Mulryan

Originally from Roscommon, as a young labourer Mulryan used to pass the gates of Ardinode Stud in Co Kildare and say "one day I will own that". And he did.

He started building one-off houses in Kildare, Wicklow and west Dublin and gradually expanded into a massive building empire, Ballymore Properties, which has huge investments in Ireland and Britain. He is credited with bankrolling part of the successful London bid to host the next Olympics to the tune of €1m and he also paid for the lavish celebration party in Trafalgar Square which cost the price of a good house in Dublin 4 in today's market.

Known to throw lavish party's for the building and racing set at Ardinode Stud, where outhouses have been turned into a fully-fitted bar and entertainment complex. At one stage, he was believed to have two helicopters taking him to and from his estate, where he lives with his wife Bernie and family, to the various outposts of his far-flung empire. Most of his developments are now in London.

Although he has figured in the Rich Lists with a fortune of almost €300m, he still loves country pursuits and is one of the stalwarts of the Galway Races and Cheltenham, where his horses once ran with great success.

9 Michael O'Flynn

O'Flynn developed the high-profile Elysian tower in Cork, now the country's tallest building. He started as a builder in 1978 and developed into buying property in Ireland and abroad.

He came to unwelcome public attention when he built a huge mansion with his wife, Joan, on family lands at Kilcrea, near Ovens, Co Cork. The size of the house led to a bitter feud with his brother Laurence and sister-in-law Eileen, who live on adjoining lands.

He was the first property developer to signal that he would be going into Nama with a portfolio of over €1.1bn, and he called for the Government to consult with developers and bankers in setting up the rescue enterprise.

He also has huge investments in Britain through Tiger Developments, which has bought property, shopping centres and another company which owns more than 5,000 units of student accommodation in Britain. O'Flynn still remains upbeat about his construction business.

10 Derek Quinlan

A GOOD-living former Revenue Commissioners tax official, Quinlan emerged from doing company accounts for Pat Kenny and others to became the king of the property syndicates during the boom.

Media and entertainment figures, including Gay Byrne, Moya Doherty and John McColgan, joined with lawyers, surgeons, judges and businessmen in investing in massive property deals all over the world. They bought the Four Seasons in Dublin, the Savoy and Claridges Hotel in London, as well as the City Tower in Canary Wharf, the tallest building in London and the massive Bank Santander headquarters in Spain.

His secretive firm Quinlan Private is now struggling under a mountain of property debt. Mr Quinlan owns three houses on Dublin's most prestigious road, Shrewsbury Road, and several others in the vicinity. Separated from his first wife, Perdita, he surprised the market when he left Ireland with his second wife, Siobhan, and young twin sons in 2009 to live in rural Switzerland. He has since severed all connections to Quinlan Private, the company he founded.

He also owns an opulent house in Cap Ferrat in the south of France which he bought for €75m and is trying to sell, as well as a €25m townhouse in Manhattan which was recently taken off the property market. Because of the structure of the company, it is difficult to know what Quinlan's debts are, but they are said to be at least €2bn.

Sunday Independent

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