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Saturday 14 December 2019

Developer Sean Dunne must repay €164.5m

Tim Healy

DEVELOPER Sean Dunne has been ordered to repay €164.5m to honour personal guarantees he gave when getting loans to buy the Jury's Hotel site in Dublin.

In the Commercial Court yesterday, lawyers for Mr Dunne consented to summary judgment orders of €164.5m sought by a group of banks led by Ulster Bank.

The banks provided loans that financed Mr Dunne's record-breaking €379m deal to buy the Jurys and Berkeley Court hotel sites in Ballsbridge in 2005.

By consenting to the judgment orders, Mr Dunne has agreed that the debt is owed.

The banks now have a legal claim over assets owned Mr Dunne that are not already mortgaged.

Mr Dunne had planned to build a €1.5bn high-rise mixed development on the site of the Dublin 4 hotels, with a 37-storey tower as the centrepiece.

That plan was rejected in January 2009 by An Bord Pleanala and the hotels were then reopened under the D4 brand.

The banks went to court seeking the judgment orders in an effort to recover money owed as a result of personal guarantees given by Mr Dunne.

They have already taken control of the hotels bought with the original loans.

It ends speculation that the banks could have been forced to go to the US to try to serve the orders on Mr Dunne.

When the matter came before Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday, he was told by Bernard Dunleavy, for the syndicate, that Mr Dunne was consenting to judgment.

It followed an earlier application by the banks looking for permission to serve proceedings outside the jurisdiction on Mr Dunne -- who is now based in the US.

A solicitor from the Dublin-based law firm Clerkin Lynch said Mr Dunne would consent to judgment in the updated sum sought by the bank -- €164,586,493.

Mr Justice Kelly entered judgment in that amount, plus interest and costs.

Ulster Bank brought the proceedings in its capacity as security trustee for the syndicate.

The syndicate's case arose from loans given from 2005 to DCD Builders Ltd, the parent company in the Dunne group, in connection with the purchase of Jury's Hotel.

Mr Dunne provided personal guarantees as security for those loans.

Last January the bank demanded payment of some €260m from DCD.

When that was not paid, the bank demanded payment from Mr Dunne in February of some €163m. This was the sum allegedly due under the Jury's guarantee on that date, plus interest.

The bank claimed Mr Dunne has no defence to summary judgment.

While considerable time had been spent liaising with him in an effort to see whether his debt could be rescheduled or managed, that had not yielded results and there was no option but to issue the proceedings, the bank said.

Irish Independent

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