Tuesday 12 December 2017

Gay Byrne business partnership settles dispute over €13.5m investment property

Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne. Photo: Mark Condren
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne. Photo: Mark Condren

Aodhan O'Faolain

A business partnership involving broadcaster Gay Byrne has settled its Commercial Court dispute against a financial fund over loan repayments on an investment property in central Dublin.

The Firstwood Partnership had brought proceedings against the Launceston Property Finance concerning a property containing a block of offices, retail units and car park at St Andrew’s Lane in Dublin 2.

The fund in 2014 acquired a loan which the partnership had taken out in 2000 with Anglo Irish Bank to acquire the property. The loan is due to expire in 2020.

The court had previously heard that the property had been valued at €13.55m in 2014 with approximately €6.7m outstanding on the loan.

On Monday the matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Brian McGovern at the Commercial Court.

The partnership comprises Gay Byrne, senior counsel Anthony Kidney, two solicitors - Eric Brunker, now retired, and Stephen Hamilton – and Dermot Murphy of Clonskeagh Motors.

Rossa Fanning SC for the partnership told the court that matter had been settled and could be adjourned to a date in October for mention only.

No details of the settlement agreement were given in open court.

The partnership sued Launceston in September 2016, after the fund issued a demand for full repayment of the €6.7m outstanding on the loan and appointed a receiver.

The fund also informed the partnership failure to remit all rental income to it within 28 days would be considered an event of default, it was claimed.

The partnership argued the fund “contrived“ a default in 2016 on a fully-performing 20-year loan made to the partnership.

In seeking the injunction the partnership claimed there was no default on the loan and the fund was not at risk of not getting its money.

It secured injunctions from the High Court restraining the receiver dealing with the property.

The partnership also secured orders, pending the outcome of the action, allowing it to continue servicing the loan as agreed with Anglo, including an amoritisation schedule for repayments.

Opposing the injunction application the fund's lawyers argued the case appeared to be about the investors not wishing to be forced to sell this investment property three years earlier than they wished. 

A prior course of dealings with Anglo did not mean the fund is not entitled to rely on the loan security documents, the fund also argued.

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