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Ronan and backer strike deal in €1bn property dispute

Co-investor planned to sell its stake to US group

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Developer Johnny Ronan

Developer Johnny Ronan

Developer Johnny Ronan

Part of a High Court dispute between the development company run by Johnny Ronan and its co-investor in three planned developments in Dublin has been resolved.

Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) had tried to prevent its co-investor, DigitalBridge Inc, formerly Colony Capital, from completing the sale of its stakes in the developments, worth an estimated €1bn, to US group Fortress Investment.

The developments are the mixed residential and commercial development, the Waterfront, in Dublin’s docklands; Facebook’s new European headquarters at Fibonacci Square, Ballsbridge; and the Spencer Place development in the docklands that includes a headquarters tower for tech firm Salesforce and a luxury hotel, the Samuel, to be operated by the Dalata Group.

RGRE obtained two injunctions last month restraining completion of the sale and also preventing DigitalBridge appointing a receiver over the Waterfront assets arising from an alleged €317m debt. DigitalBridge owns about 70pc of Waterfront.

The injunctions were sought by RGRE and a number of related companies pending determination of the full dispute between the parties. DigitalBridge and a number of related companies opposed the injunction applications and denied the claims of RGRE.

The injunctions matter was due for hearing before Mr Justice Denis McDonald on Tuesday when he was told at the outset that discussions had taken place between the parties and further time was sought until the afternoon.

Following further talks, Michael Cush SC, for RGRE, told Mr Justice McDonald the injunctions issue had been resolved.

The judge adjourned the matter to December 21 and said he was glad to hear an accommodation had been reached.

The dispute arises out of an agreement this year by DigitalBridge relating to a $2.7bn (€2.3bn) transaction to sell its non-digital European property assets to Fortress.

Digital Bridge’s joint ventures with RGRE are proposed to be wrapped into that deal, over objections from Mr Ronan.

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RGRE claimed this breached an oral agreement reached with DigitalBridge last December to sell its interests in the Dublin developments to a consortium backed by South African institutional investors.

The agreement, the court previously heard, was between Mr Ronan and Tom Barrack, then executive chairman of Colony, concerning the disposal of Colony’s interest in two projects, the Spencer and Fibonacci projects, to a consortium comprising Mr Ronan and South African investors.

Digital Bridge and RGRE are joint venture partners in Waterfront, a commercial and residential scheme that would see more than 1,000 new homes and 66,718sq m of office space developed.

The office scheme has planning permission but An Bórd Pleanála refused last May to grant approval for the planned residential element, comprising two 40-plus storey towers.


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