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Banks take large stake in Dunne's D4 empire

BANKS have taken a significant stake in developer Sean Dunne's property empire in Ballsbridge.

Ulster Bank, Dutch lender Rabobank and a third foreign-owned lender have taken holdings in the sites of the Jurys, Towers and Berkeley Court hotels, which had a combined value of €379m in 2005.

Mr Dunne is engaged in his second bid to turn the sites into a €1bn retail, residential and office development along the lines of London's Knightsbridge.

His planning application with Dublin City Council for the zone is at the additional information stage.

The previous plan, which included a proposal for a 37-storey tower, was rejected by An Bord Pleanala, having received partial approval from the council.

A recent estimation by Mr Dunne put the value of the Berkeley Court, which he bought for €122m in 2005, at just €87.4m, a 28.6pc depreciation in the value of the 2.16-acre site.

Documents published today reveal that two companies controlled by Ulster Bank, Rabobank and the British unit of the fallen Icelandic bank Kaupthing have taken stakes in the three hotels.

The papers lodged with the Companies' Office show that one of Mr Dunne's companies has agreed to continue renting the sites.

The developer insisted the three hotels, now called D4 Hotels, remain open for business, claiming they have "re-energised" the hotel industry in Ireland.

Mr Dunne paid nearly €54m per acre for the site of the Jurys and Towers hotels in late 2005 from the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group.

A few months later, he splashed out €57m an acre for the adjoining Berkeley Court.

In its request for additional information on Mr Dunne's latest plan for the hotel sites, the council indicated the developer will have to significantly revise his scheme.