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NI property developer Kearney's £250m debt written off by Cerberus fund

By John Mulgrew

Published 12/04/2016

Ten Square Hotel in Belfast which is also owned by one of Paddy Kearney's firms
Ten Square Hotel in Belfast which is also owned by one of Paddy Kearney's firms
Paddy Kearney of Kilmona

One of Northern Ireland's biggest property developers, Paddy Kearney, had £250m worth of debt written off from US vulture fund Cerberus.

Cerberus had purchased debts from Mr Kearney's business group from Nama, as part of Northern Ireland's biggest ever loan sale, Project Eagle.

According to the latest accounts from Mr Kearney's company, Kilmona Investments, the firm received a write-off in its debt of £249.8m.

And technically, due to that write-off, the company subsequently returned a profit of £226.9m, according to the latest accounts filed.

The accounts for the period ending June 2015, state that in June 2014 the overall Kilmona Group loans were sold by Nama to an affiliate of Cerberus.

"Following discussions between Cerberus and the Kilmona Group directors, Cerberus sold the loans to an affiliate of Jefferies Loancore (JLC)," it said.

"JLC have provided secured lending facilities to the Kilmona Group based on the group's asset strategies which will develop and maximise the inherent medium to long-term economic value of these assets."

JLC is a US commercial property finance firm.

The latest accounts also state that "Kilmona Group directors completed a group-secured debt restructure in January 2015" which the firm says will "strengthen" its "financial position".

A spokesman for Kilmona told the Belfast Telegraph: "Our accounts for the year 2014/15 are a matter of public record.

"Our focus now and going forward is the regeneration of Belfast city centre.

"We have six major planning applications with Belfast City Council at the moment which will bring over £200m of new investment and transform the Grade A office stock of Belfast.

"Having also purchased and completely refurbished Ten Square Hotel, we have added in a very positive way to the city's leisure and hotel offer also.

"We are also continuing to look at a range of new opportunities and will be making some further acquisition and planning announcements in the near future."

Paddy Kearney's business group is in the middle of a series of major building developments right across Belfast city centre.

Mr Kearney is planning to develop a series of huge office buildings across the city over the next few years.

That is to help meet a severe shortage of top-end office space in Belfast.

Mr Kearney's Kilmona Holdings will build two large buildings in a new development called Lanyon Central at East Bridge Street, made up of 12 storeys and 235,000 sq ft of floor space.

And he is also developing the 10-storey Chichester House on Chichester Street, which will include 70,000 sq ft of office space and 10,000 sq ft of retail.

He recently purchased a tranche of buildings in the city, including the Ten Square hotel just behind City Hall.

Towards the end last year, Mr Kearney said claims that he had received a "sweetheart" deal when he moved to refinance his Nama-controlled loans when they were bought by Cerberus were "unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations" and "unwarranted personal attacks".

Speaking before Stormont's finance committee, Mr Kearney was scathing about Nama and how it handled his loans, claiming they tried to "intimidate, frighten and bribe" him to hand over control of his company.

Belfast Telegraph

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