A lawyer from Dublin has ended up owing £670 million to banks all over the world having purchased a portfolio of high-end properties using readily available credit during the property market’s boom.
The extent of Brian O’Donnell’s debts have been laid bare because the Bank of Ireland has taken him to court in an attempt to force him to sell one of his prime London assets – Sanctuary Buildings, an office block just a few metres from the Houses of Parliament – as the bank tries to recover the £58 million he owes them.
During the bubble, O’Donnell audaciously developed an international property portfolio that includes two buildings in London’s Canary Wharf – 17 Columbus Yard, purchased for £125 million, and 15 Westferry Circus, purchased for £140 million – as well as Stockholm’s largest office block and an office building on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., situated just a few hundred metres from the White House.
O’Donnells’ rise in the property sector mirrors that of a number of other investors who caught the property bug when credit was cheap and capital yields – profit on buildings – meant that millions could potentially be made in a matter of weeks. His case is the latest in a series of court actions being instigated against property developers now bearing the brunt of the financial collapse.
Masthaven: for property development loans