Anglo Irish Bank has begun to move on UK property developers after appointing receivers to 13 properties owned by regional property company Magnet Property Investments to reclaim debts of more than £28m (€31m) secured on office blocks in southern England.
The assets include a 400,000 sq ft landmark redevelopment in Leicester as well as properties throughout the south-east of the country.
Magnet's most recent financial statements from September 2008 show that Anglo was the largest creditor to the company, accounting for about 60% of its £47.3m in borrowings. At the time the company valued its assets at £31.7m, but it is likely they are worth less today.
Anglo has been relatively active in pursuing its debtors in the Irish courts since its nationalisation last January. But it has been less conspicuous in the UK.
In October, the bank successfully sued businessman Hugh O'Regan, former owner of the Thomas Read pub group, for €37.4m to recoup personal loans and guarantees he gave over the borrowings of two companies which were in liquidation, Thomas Read Holdings and Clubko. The case was one of the largest personal judgments in the history of the state.
Anglo is also suing former chief executive David Drumm over €8m in loans on properties he subsequently transferred into his wife's name. The suit is seeking repayment of the money and an overturn of the transfers which, if upheld, would effectively put the properties out of the bank's reach.
Although Anglo was known for pursuing bad debts even before the crash threw up large-scale insolvencies and liquidations, the move against a former executive marks and aggressive change in culture for the bank, which lent millions to directors and senior executives during the boom.
Former chairman Sean Fitzpatrick was given more than €100m in loans which were kept out of the bank's audited accounts by warehousing them temporarily each year with Irish Nationwide. Other directors and executives had smaller loans.
New chief executive Mike Aynsley has been busy since his September appointment cleaning house at the top of the organisation. Last month saw the resignations of old-regime stalwarts such as chief financial officer Matt Moran and head of Irish operations Pat Whelan, both of whom owe millions to the bank.