Haughey sells Abbeville for €40m

CHARLES HAUGHEY will net €34 million after tax following the sale of his Kinsealy home and 230-acre estate.

The disgraced former Taoiseach personally negotiated the contract with Manor Park Homebuilders Ltd, and signed it on Tuesday.

Manor Park Homebuilders is believed to be paying €40m for the purchase of the Abbeville Estate at Kinsealy, Co Dublin.

The property developers are considering two options:

lDeveloping a K-Club-style golf course on the land.

The development plan allows for an integrated tourist facility on the lands, which could see the conversion of Haughey's listed house into a luxury hotel and golf course, with associated high-level housing. A total of 40 exclusive homes along the boundary of the course, on similar lines to the K-Club and Mount Juliet, would net an excellent return on the investment for Manor Park Homebuilders. On a championship course, these could fetch up to €1 million per unit.

lThe second option is to apply for re-zoning in order to build upwards of 2,500 houses.

The Abbeville land, despite having high-density sewerage infrastructure, is zoned green belt in the Fingal County Development Plan, and while this is under review and could be changed in 2005, the indications are that the original zoning may stay until 2009.

The sale of the property is not subject to planning permission.

Mr Haughey will pay Capital Gains Tax on 229 acres of the land, but the house and one acre are exempt from tax, as they are regarded as his principal dwelling by the Revenue Commissioners.

Taking a valuation figure of €10 million on Abbeville itself, Mr Haughey would have liabilities on €30 million, which at 20% would leave proceeds of €34 million, tax free, from the sale.

The issue of whether or not Mr Haughey will continue to live in the Gandon-designed manor is unclear. Mr Haughey, who is terminally ill with prostate cancer, is believed to be staying at Abbeville at present, despite rumours that he recently spent time at his island home on Inishvickillane.

An agreed date for closure, at which point Mr Haughey would have to vacate Abbeville, would be incorporated into the contract of sale signed on Tuesday as a matter of course.

But legal sources say this is flexible and, subject to the agreement of both sides, the date to vacate could be extended, allowing Mr Haughey to remain for an indefinite period.

However, sources close to the former Taoiseach suggested last night that he would be asked to vacate the property soon.

Previous negotiations with Treasury Holdings ran into difficulty because of Mr Haughey's insistence on a 'life-time' clause his right to live in the property until death.

Treasury Holdings, headed by principals Richard Barrett and John Ronan, had purchased 15 acres of the Abbeville estate for around €7 million, and contracts were exchanged to purchase the entire estate.

However, reports surfaced last year that the ex-Taoiseach was "shopping around" for prospective purchasers after the Treasury deal collapsed.

Treasury are also understood to have had a large-scale high-density development on the cards, but balked at the idea of Mr Haughey being in situ in Abbeville, as they felt his controversial presence would tilt the balance against any future re-zoning of the lands.

Treasury were said to be prepared to pay up to €38 million for the estate.

Rumours suggest that the property was "on the go round", and that the new deal was made in recent weeks.

The buyers confirmed the sale last night, saying: "Manor Park Homebuilders Ltd is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Abbeville Estate comprising Abbeville House and its 230 surrounding acres."

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