Stephen's Green building owner fails to pursue case stopping receiver over €13m debt

The owner of two prestigious Georgian office buildings in Dublin's Stephen's Green faces receivership of the properties after he failed to pursue High Court injunction proceedings blocking efforts to prevent the takeover due to a €13m debt.

Monaghan-born businessman Leo Mohan owns numbers 92 and 93, on the north side of the green, loans for which were refinanced with assistance from his father-in-law Paul Anderson, a founder of the cinema-owning Anderson family and a director of Panoramic Cinemas Ireland.

He claims Mr Anderson breached an agreement by selling outstanding loans on the properties to Panoramic last November. He said he has made efforts to sell the properties and has got two firm offers of €22m and €25m.

In his injunction proceedings against Mr Anderson, against a company which was used in the refinancing called Dunbridge, and against Panoramic, Mr Mohan claimed there was a conspiracy to prevent him from raising other finance to pay off the outstanding loans.

Mr Anderson said the proceedings were misconceived and represented an illegitimate attempt by Mr Mohan to frustrate the contractual rights of Panoramic.

Mr Mohan was in court today when a hearing over whether to continue an injunction preventing the appointment of a receiver over the properties was due to take place.

He left, however, during an adjournment when he was given 10 minutes by Mr Justice Robert Haughton to discuss with his solicitor, Gerald Kean, the judge's refusal to permit an adjournment of the injunction hearing.

The court heard Mr Kean was brought into the case late last night after Mr Mohan's previous solicitors had applied to cease representing him. The previous solicitors had been refused an adjournment application on Tuesday.

Mr Kean asked the judge for a week's adjournment so he could address errors in a last-minute affidavit submitted by Mr Mohan just before the injunction case was due to start. After the judge refused the adjournment, Mr Kean withdrew from the case and said his client was "not physically or mentally in a position to appear before the court - he is not in a good place".

Rossa Fanning SC, for the Anderson side, asked the judge to discharge the injunction and direct Mr Mohan to deliver a statement of claim in relation to the rest of his case over alleged breach of a contract within the next few weeks.

Mr Justice Haughton adjourned the matter for directions to next month.

The judge also said the effect of the order dismissing the injunction was that the defendants would now be in a position to appoint a receiver.

Mr Mohan, in an affidavit, said he bought the Stephen's Green properties for €9.5m, which he leased to "blue chip" clients, with a 2006 loan from the former Anglo Irish Bank.

He received total funding of €13.9m from Anglo because he also refinanced a number of pre-existing facilities. The rent roll from Stephen's Green was around €250,000 a year which Mr Mohan said provided his main income.

After the economic crash, the loan ended up with IBRC which in 2014 sold it on to Launceston Property Finance.

Mr Mohan approached his father-in-law, Mr Anderson, for advice on funding to refinance the loan as Launcestown had appointed a receiver over the assets.

Mr Anderson instead offered to get the property back into family control from the fund using the Dunbridge company. The total debt at this point was around €21m and under the 2016 refinancing arrangement, Launcestown agreed to a settlement of €13m and discharged the receiver.

By the middle of last year, Mr Mohan said he was working on a number of options to pay off the remaining debt before December 2018.

However, he said, in breach of the agreement he had with Mr Anderson, it was sold to Panoramic in November.

Mr Anderson, in an affidavit, said with the deadline for completion of payment of the refinanced loan approaching, Mr Mohan had already had two and a half years to sort out his affairs and find funding to pay off the outstanding balance.

Under the agreement Dunbridge had with Launceston, Dunbridge was "placed squarely at financial risk" and action had to be taken.

Mr Anderson said Mr Mohan had complained about the conduct of the defendants but he said "any suggestions of unconscionable conduct properly lie at the plaintiff's (Mohan's) own door"

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