Tuesday 16 January 2018

Queen and Gingko snap up McGuckian's €430m centre

ROYALTY: Property interests
ROYALTY: Property interests
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

The Crown Estate, which manages Queen Elizabeth's property interests, has teamed up with Chinese group Gingko Tree Investment to buy the €430m Fosse Park retail centre, which was owned by companies associated with Irish Continental Group chairman John McGuckian and his partner Ken Cheevers.

McGuckian and Cheevers had amassed a major portfolio of shopping centres and retail parks across Ireland and the UK over the last 20 years through their Foyleside and Abbey centre firms. The portfolio includes the vast Fosse Park complex in the UK and the Marshes Centre in Dundalk.

The €440m purchase of the Fosse Shopping Park in 2006 was the largest single retail property purchase in the UK in over a decade. Ulster Bank provided loans to fund the development of the portfolio. As part of its move to deleverage and tidy up its balance sheet, Ulster Bank has been selling off large chunks of its property-related loan book, with over €16bn worth of assets earmarked for sale by 2016. Savills was appointed to handle the process to offload the Swallowtail portfolio, which includes eight shopping centres and retail parks, including Fosse.

Kildare Partners, the property buyout fund set up by Irish billionaire Ellis Short - owner of Sunderland Football club - is buying the Foyleside centre in Derry and the Forestside centre in Belfast. Kildare has teamed up with Foyleside and Abbey Centre to asset manage the two shopping centres following the €150m deal. Kennedy Wilson is paying €55m for the Dundalk Marshes centre.

McGuckian is one of the best connected players in Irish business over the last couple of decades. He has been chairman of Eamon Rothwell's Irish Continental Group for over a decade. He is also a board member of Shane Reihill's soon-to-be de-listed TVC Holdings.

The industrialist has also served as a board member of AIB and was a former chairman of AIB (UK). He was also a director at TV3 Broadcasting in the 1990s when it was owned by a group including Paul McGuinness, James Morris and Ossie Kilkenny. McGuckian also served as chairman of UTV but suffered the embarrassment of being voted off the board because of his association with major shareholder TVC.

He has major interests in the textile sectors, running the Group, which makes pyjamas for chain stores and specialist military clothing, including special bomb-resistant underpants for the US marines.

Sunday Indo Business

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