Three foreign banks take substantial stake in Sean Dunne’s D4 Hotels

THREE banks have taken a substantial stake in the Ballsbridge hotels, which were bought by property developer Sean Dunne for a record €375 million in 2005. The three hotels are in Dublin 4.

The banks who have moved in on one of the country’s best known property developers are Ulster Bank, Rabobank and the Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

Mr Dunne bought the Berkeley Court, Jurys Ballsbridge and Towers Hotel for a record price of €375m, but he has been unable to get planning permission for a 37-storey tower and nine other blocks on the site.

The latest move suggests his plans for delivering his dream development in Dublin’s fashionable Ballsbridge look unlikely to be fulfilled.

Some uncertainty surrounds the current situation and it is not known whether the banks have taken a majority stake in the hotels.

The hotels have been trading under D4 Hotels, a company set up by Mr Dunne to keep the hotels operational while he fought to get his planning permission passed the various planning authorities.

Asked about the latest developments involving the thee banks Mr Dunne in a statement said: “D4 Hotels has re-energised the hotel industry in Ireland. Through innovation and pragmatism, as well as a considerable commitment to our staff and customers we have made staying in Dublin more accessible to all.”

About 12 months ago An Bord Pleanála rejected Mr Dunne’s plans for the Ballsbridge site which involved building high density office, retail and residential offerings including a 37-storey tower that was the centre of much negative comment at the time.

Three months ago local councillors added to his difficulties when they rejected his revised proposals for the property.

Ulster Bank was the main backer of the Ballsbridge site and they subsequently brought in Rabo and Kaupthing into the deal.

Back at the height of the boom Mr Dunne shelled out €54m an acre for the sites on which Jurys Hotel and The Towers Hotel are situated.

Months later he completed the site by paying €57m per acre for the adjoining Berkley Court Hotel, which formed part of the Jury’s Doyle Hotel Group.

Prior to that he was locked in a takeover battle for the entire chain with rival developer Liam Carroll.

They both lost out in the end to the three daughters of the chain’s founder PV Doyle.

Since the downturn in the market the three banks have suffered write downs on this major site as the Irish property market imploded.

Because each bank is foreign-owned the assets will not be transferred to NAMA, the bad bank.


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