Bernard McNamara was widely reported as one of the NAMA Top 10 developers whose loans were absorbed by the agency in the first tranche in May 2010. The man himself is one of the best known developers in the State having built a vast property empire which encompassed some of the best known hotels in the State, not to mention prestigious residential developments and shopping centres. It is perhaps a sad reality that he might have become best known as the face of the disastrous Irish Glass Bottle development, mostly due to the litigation that has surrounded him in relation to that site (and because the other partners in the development – Derek Quinlan keeps a low profile in London/Switzerland and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority has been cleansed of its former top management and no-one dare say a bad word about current chairwoman, Niamh Brennan).
As with all NAMA developers, Bernard will have submitted a business plan to the agency and there will have been some subsequent dialogue to assess how best the loans could be repaid. Though not confirmed by NAMA, I understand that NAMA is placing a cap of €192,000 (not €200,000) on salaries to be paid to developers. Bernard of course didn’t get to where he is (or was) today by sitting around waiting for events to unfold and recent reporting has suggested he is building a business in the Middle East where his talents might be better rewarded. And there is some speculation as to what happened this week with mixed reporting on the receivership of the Michael McNamara and Company construction company. Earlier reporting (and here) suggested that it was Bernard himself that sought a voluntary receivership whereas reporting today (and here) suggests that NAMA is pulling the strings and that it was NAMA that placed the company in receivership. Indeed both RTE and the Independent are highlighting what is a milestone event in NAMA’s growth into its full functionality – the first time NAMA has used its powers under Chapter 3 of the NAMA Act to appoint a receiver.
Michael McNamara and Company is regarded as the flagship construction company in Bernard’s empire. Founded in Lisdoonvarna in 1948 and bearing the name of Bernard’s father the company was incorporated in 1964 as an unlimited company and does not publish accounts – it has a long history in residential, commercial and public sector construction. Today it is reported to employ 400 people directly and including subcontractors it is estimated that 1,100 people may be depending on the company. The construction industry in Ireland employed an estimated total of 125,300 at the end of June 2010 and with the recent failure of Pierse Contracting and with McInerney’s future uncertain, the sector seems to be facing a bleak immediate future.
Although a key part of the Bernard McNamara empire, Bernard had stepped back from day to day involvement in the company earlier this year. Elsewhere his group is facing an uncertain future with debts reported at €1.5bn. Yesterday another prominent group company Radora Developments Limited (developer of the Elmpark Green Urban Quarter on Merrion Road in Dublin) was on the receiving end of a winding up petition by ACC Bank (local subsidiary of Holland’s Rabobank). What next for other companies in the McNamara group? Including Grattan Properties, Varleigh, Breydon Developments.
UPDATE: 15th November, 2010. Siobhan Creaton in the Independent claims that “On Thursday, Farrell Grant Sparks was appointed to take control of the business. It has shut down the company’s [Michael McNamara Construction - that's the company identified in the preceding paragraph and the company to which FGS has been appointed receiver] sites, laid off half of its 110 staff, and the receiver will shortly put the company’s assets on the market. That company owes more than €20m to creditors and subcontractors. It had made profits of €6m in the previous six months and had not been seeking funding from NAMA to continue its work.” Could Siobhan be confusing Radora with Michael McNamara Construction?
UPDATE: 21st November, 2010. With a key hearing tomorrow where Radora’s future will be decided by the courts, it is being reported by the Independent that the receiver to Michael McNamara and Company is wasting no time in putting the assets up for sale. The assets include the work in progress on several major state contracts with which the company was involved.
UPDATE: 26th November, 2010. There was supposed to have been a winding up application hearing last Monday 22nd November in respect of Friends First/ACC Bank’s claims on Bernard McNamara’s Radora Developments, possibly best known for its mixed-use development of Elm Park in Ballsbridge. No news of that but the Independent today is claiming that NAMA is appointing a receiver, likely to be FGS (Farrell Grant Sparks ), to this major McNamara group company. There would appear to be still quite a few unsold high-end apartments in the development which at the peak saw two-bed apartments on offer for €585,000. Don’t be surprised to see these offloaded at €200-250k in a NAMA firesale.
UPDATE: 18th December, 2010. The Independent reports that McNamara’s Varleigh and Breydon have fallen to the receivers. In both cases, it was non-NAMA financial institution Ulster Bank that pulled the plug and PwC appears to have been appointed receiver for both. NAMA has of course had receivers appointed to Michael McNamara and Company Construction and to Radora Developments.
UPDATE: 12th December, 2011. It is reported in today’s Irish Examiner that a receivers report has been lodged with the Companies Registration Office which reportedly shows that the receiver, Declan Taite has realised €3.15m in asset sales.