Estate agent suing Nama favourite Mulryan for €4m
AS one of Nama's biggest and best-performing developers, Ballymore Properties chief Sean Mulryan knows a thing or two about keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs.
But a deal he entered into in 2005 with a former business partner, Wicklow estate agent Gabriel Dooley, looks like it may have come back to haunt him.
Lawyers for Mr Dooley have served a plenary summons on two of Mr Mulryan's Irish subsidiaries – Ballymore Group Ireland Ltd (BIGL) and Florentine Properties – in an effort to secure payment of €4m he claims he is owed for work as a consultant on plans by the Roscommon-born tycoon to deliver a €100m town centre development in Bray, Co Wicklow.
Under the terms of the contract agreed on August 26, 2005, with Mr Mulryan's companies, Mr Dooley was to have been paid the monies upon "practical completion" of the planned Florentine Centre, or in the event that there was a "change of control" of the companies behind the development.
While work on the shopping mall, office and apartment complex was to have begun in 2007, the effects of the financial crisis very quickly put paid to the ambitious project's chances of securing development funding.
The centre's development has remained stalled ever since.
And while that fact alone would appear to rule out any prospect of Mr Dooley obtaining the €4m he claims he is owed by the Ballymore Group's Irish subsidiary or Florentine Properties, the Sunday Independent understands his lawyers will press for payment on the grounds that there was a change of control of the two companies, with the transfer of a substantial portion of BIGL's loans to Nama in 2011.
Complicating matters further, however, is the presence of receivers appointed by Bank of Scotland last month to Florentine Properties and another Ballymore company, Montes Ltd.
A spokesman for Mr Mulryan declined to comment on Mr Dooley's decision to initiate proceedings on the grounds that he was legally precluded from doing so.
A source close to the Ballymore Group attempted, however, to downplay the significance of the case, saying: "The reality is that the bank put this company into receivership and Mr Dooley should be dealing with the receiver, not Ballymore."
While Bank of Scotland's decision to appoint receivers to the Ballymore companies behind the Bray development took a number of other developers by surprise when it happened, the same source insisted that the Florentine development was "ring-fenced" and, as such, did not affect the Ballymore Group or its relationship with Nama or its other banks.
The source insisted that Nama had been made aware of Bank of Scotland's intention to appoint receivers.
According to its company accounts, Florentine Properties' bank debts surpassed €23m last year, while €14m was owed to a number of Ballymore Group companies.