SEAN Dunne has confirmed that his dream of bringing a piece of Knightsbridge to Ballsbridge has finally come to an end.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent at the D4 Berkeley Hotel yesterday, the Carlow-born developer said he was at "an advanced stage in agreeing an exit strategy that is consensual with the syndicate of banks" that backed the multi-million euro scheme. He said he was looking forward to moving on with his life in America.
Asked how relations with the banks who had lent him a massive €379m for the former Jurys hotels were now that he was leaving them behind, a relaxed Mr Dunne said: "In the strange times we're now living in, it's very important to maintain good relations with your banks. The syndicate have been very supportive of me."
Not even the mention of Nama and its decision to seek a multi-million euro judgement against him in the High Court appeared to ruffle the man the media once dubbed the Baron of Ballsbridge.
Mr Dunne even went so far as to point out that Nama was looking for a judgement of €184m against him, as opposed to the sum of €100m quoted in the media. While he declined to comment further on the matter, the Sunday Independent understands that he has written to Nama to inform it of his intention to consent to the judgement subject to the figures being verified by his own accountants.
When asked to confirm the extent of the personal guarantees he had given to the banks for his loans on the former Jurys Ballsbridge site, Mr Dunne said these amounted to a €50m guarantee to Ulster Bank, €25m to ACC and €25m to Rabobank. He stressed, however, that he had lost all of the €125m that he had invested personally in the proposed redevelopment of the site.
Mr Dunne went on to note that he had given personal guarantees totalling €409m during the heady years of the boom, once the €184m Nama intended to pursue was added to the overall guarantees of €125m and €100m he had given to the Ulster Bank (and another bank which he did not identify).
Asked for his views on the personal guarantees the banks had sought from their clients during the Celtic Tiger, Mr Dunne said: "They [personal guarantees] should be banned from all future lending. On a personal level, the next banker who asks me for a personal guarantee had better be sitting safely beyond arm's reach."
The Sunday Independent understands that former Jurys Doyle group chief executive Pat McCann, who now heads the Maldron Group, is being lined up to oversee the operations of the Ballsbridge hotels on behalf of the syndicate.
Mr Dunne is understood to be in negotiations with a number of hotels in the Ballsbridge area with a view to offering them marketing and room sales services, through a D4 Hotels website.
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