Thursday 27 June 2019

Bank move is culmination of an 'annus horribilis' for high-flyer

Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

PRIOR to his property companies' €800m debt dilemma, Brian O'Donnell was regarded as one of Ireland's leading corporate lawyers.

But when Bank of Ireland (BoI) obtained a €71.5m judgment against the high-flying legal eagle and his doctor wife Mary Pat yesterday, the socialite couple had no lawyer to represent them.

The O'Donnells, who were once ranked in the 'Sunday Times Rich List', live on Vico Road in Killiney, Dublin.

But now the couple stand to lose their luxury residence if BoI enforces a clause, contained in a previous settlement agreement, allowing it to take steps to possess the family home.

The debt order ends an 'annus horribilis' for Mr O'Donnell, who saw the jewel in the crown of his property empire -- the Sanctuary Building in London -- sold for €202m last July.

Mr O'Donnell spent most of his career with one of Dublin's biggest law firms, William Fry, where over the course of almost 30 years he became its managing partner.

In 1999, he left to establish his own company, Brian O'Donnell & Partners, which specialises in corporate law, including commercial real estate.

It is on a panel of solicitors used by NAMA to advise and act on property transactions, although it is understood the firm has never acted for NAMA.


Alongside his legal practice, Mr O'Donnell and his wife established the London-based company, Vico Capital, as an investment vehicle through which they could acquire commercial property abroad in 2005.

Most of the company's property investments were made on behalf of the couple, while other private investors also chipped in money on other deals.

Vico Capital amassed an enormous property portfolio, including prestigious buildings in London and Washington DC, that at the height of the boom were valued at €1bn.

But now the fate of their entire property empire has been cast into doubt by BoI's move.

Irish Independent

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