Carroll: pressing ahead with developments

Developer Liam Carroll has lost approximately €260m on stock market investments in the past two years, according to the latest accounts for three of his companies.

His Gainsco vehicle, which is known to have invested in Greencore, lost €128m, according to accounts for the year ended 31 March 2008. The company spent nearly €206m acquiring shares in investments listed on the Irish stock exchange but in January of this year they slumped in value to €76.7m.

As revealed previously by the Sunday Tribune, the values of equity investments in Carroll's Bloomburg vehicle fell from just under €110m at the beginning of 2007 to less than €35m by November of last year, a fall of €75m.

In addition, Carroll's South Morston Investment Company wrote down its investment in Irish Continental Group by €8.9m for the year ended 31 March 2008, and by January of 2009, according to a note in the accounts, the investment's value had fallen a further €48.9m, giving total losses of nearly €58m.

Most of the Gainsco shares were acquired with money advanced by a Carroll company, Ronnie Rentals, which recently changed its annual return date. Ronnie Rentals had shareholders' funds of more than €114m at the end of March 2007.

Despite moves by Irish Nationwide last week to get Carroll to honour a personal guarantee the building society claims is worth €60m, many of the developer's companies are pressing ahead with developments.

Last week a Carroll company, JP Ryan, applied for a massive development on the 5.5-acre site at East Road in Dublin's north docks. Carroll is seeking permission to build nearly 50,000 square metres of offices, 73 residential units, nine shops, a café, medical centre, gym and crèche on the site. Last year Carroll's plans for a development of up to 17 storeys on the site were turned down.

Some of Carroll's companies have had emphases of concern inserted in their accounts by his auditors, pointing out that their "ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on the availability of continued financial support from group companies and their bankers". The company directors believe appropriate funding will be available.

Meanwhile, An Bord Pleanála is due to decide this week if Carroll will be allowed to retain and complete the eight-storey office building that is due to become Anglo Irish Bank's headquarters. Rival developer Seán Dunne has appealed the granting of permission by Dublin City Council earlier this year. The building has already been the subject of two court cases.

Carroll is a self-made developer who started out building apartments before moving into hotels. Two Tallaght hotels he owns have closed down, but his offices have attracted tenants such as Google and State Street.