Monday 23 October 2017

Hotelier wins injunction to stop bank from selling prime London businesses

Jalaluddin Kajani: says his family firm will be unable to continue if three hotels are sold by IBRC
Jalaluddin Kajani: says his family firm will be unable to continue if three hotels are sold by IBRC

THE owner of two boutique hotels in London's Kensington area fears his business will fail if former Anglo Irish Bank-appointed receivers are allowed to sell his properties to repay €21m in outstanding loans.

Irish citizen Jalaluddin Kajani, who came here from Pakistan in 1980 and later set up a property company, Supergrace Ltd, says the two hotels and another commercial property in Putney, London, are at the core of his business, run by his wife and family.

Despite having sold several other properties to meet the bank's demand for repayment, if these three assets are sold the company will be unable to continue as a going concern, he claimed in the High Court.

Mr Kajani and the company were yesterday granted an injunction restraining the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo, as well as receivers Jonathan H Gershinson and Ania Packman, from taking any steps to deal with the three properties, including selling them.

Mr Justice Peter Charleton said he was conscious the application was being made on a one-side only basis, but he was satisfied to grant a limited injunction.

The judge noted Mr Kajani complained he had found himself in difficulties because, in order to get refinancing, he had to switch his loans from variable interest rate repayments to a fixed rate of just under five per cent, even though rates subsequently fell to between two and three per cent. In an affidavit, Mr Kajani said he was put under duress in 2007 and 2008 by the bank to accept unsuitable terms for refinancing which caused the company to default on repayments.

He first obtained loan facilities for investing in UK properties from (then) Anglo, through its Dublin office.

In 2007, he decided to buy properties in Kensington and turn them into hotels. He was told by Anglo officials that he would have to enter new arrangements, or "swap transactions", in order to refinance.

In November 2007, he agreed the new terms for a sum totalling €18.7m (£15.2m) but he felt he had to do it under duress. The security for the loans was nine other properties owned by him and his wife.

Anglo was nationalised in December 2008 and, faced with pressure to reduce his debt, he sold off five properties, but says this was on the understanding that he would be left with the three prime London properties.

However, despite getting a total of €7.9m (£6.4m), from these sales, the bank issued a demand for repayment of €28m (£23m), later dropping to €21m (£17m) following further property sales.

At the beginning of this month, Mr Kajani learned receivers had been appointed over his remaining properties.

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