11:28 AM, 20th January 2011, About 11 years ago 2
Property investors Brian and Mary Pat O’Donnell prospered in the boom times by buying up trophy office buildings in prime locations around the world, but are now fighting to hold on to their billion pound portfolio.
The O’Donnell’s – a lawyer, 58, and his doctor wife, 56 – persuaded banks to invest hundreds of millions in the extravagant plans to build a property empire.
Now they are embroiled in court action with the Bank of Ireland over paying back a £22.5 million loan that was part of the £170 million purchase of Sanctuary Buildings – an office block neighbouring the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
The couple, from Killiney, Dublin, claim the bank has no right to try make them sell the block, but the bank is in dire financial trouble after the property market collapsed in Eire and wants to claw back £58 million in debts to ease the pain.
When the couple bought the block, Irish banks were splashing out massive loans that have mostly turned sour and led to the Irish government accepting billions in bailout cash from the European Union and International Monetary fund.
Offices share address with The Whitehouse
As a result of the Bank of Ireland action, more details of the O’Donnell’s’ property spending spree have been revealed.
In 2008, they outbid investors from Dubai to snap up a prime office block for £87 million in Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, that shares the prestigious address with The Whitehouse.
Their portfolio also boasts two buildings bought for a total of £265 million on Canary Wharf, London, that are the homes of Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley banks. In Sweden, they own the city’s biggest office block, The Fatburen, a snip at £240 million.
The couple’s property investments are estimated to total about £1 billion and rake in rents of £125 million a year.
The couple have three weeks to put a case together to fight off the Bank of Ireland – and Mr O’Donnell seems well placed to do so as a successful commercial lawyer who is listed as one of the 50 or so lawyers backed by the Irish government to deal with bad property deals in the wake of the country’s economic collapse.
The couple were recently listed at 178 in the Irish Rich List.
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