The end of an era at Quinlan Private has been reached after founder and chairman Derek Quinlan said he was stepping down from the firm after 20 years at the helm. He relinquishes his position at the end of the month.
Management of the Dublin-based company will be handed over to four partners: Olan Cremin, Peter Donnelly, Thomas Dowd, and Mark O’Donnell.
Quinlan, who will remain an investor with the firm according to a statement released today, has gradually been spending more time on his own real estate investments.
According to a report in the Irish Times today, his personal investments include a stake in the Citigroup tower in London’s Docklands which was acquired in 2007 for €1.2 billion. He was also an investor in the Madrid head office of Santander bank which was bought for €1.9 billion last year.
In a statement, Quinlan said: “Now I feel is the right time to retire from the partnership. We have been in business for 20 years having first opened our doors in May, 1989.” He added the firm had a well balanced leadership equipped to deal with the challenges presented by current business conditions, and over the medium-term to “sustain growth and development.”
His departure coincides with severe stress being experienced in Ireland with the near collapse of the Irish banks that played a huge part in providing cheap debt to groups like Quinlan to acquire large property assets such as budget hotel group Jurys Inns for €1.1 billion in 2007.
Just today Moody’s downgraded its ratings on the long-term senior unsecured debt securities of the six Irish financial institutions covered by the Government’s bank guarantee. Part of the reason is due to the provision of €3.5 billion to recapitalise Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank and the provision of €3 billion to help Anglo Irish meet its loans. Anglo may require up to €4.5 billion more in government guarantees if its loan book continues to deteriorate, said Moody’s.
Alongside the banks, some Dublin-based firms investing in property have been severely wounded by the current downturn with many reporting that their clients are no longer in a position to invest in further deals.
First Equity Group, for example, collapsed at the end of last year. The firm had been considering opening up to institutional partners as Quinlan had done, but the credit crunch ended those plans.
Quinlan Private currently has more than €11 billion of assets under management primarily in Ireland, the UK, Western and Central Europe and the US. The portfolio includes hotels, offices, shopping centres and mixed residential complexes.
In 2007 it began raising its first opportunistic fund in a bid to broaden its investor base. Traditionally, the firm invested the funds of wealthy private Irish individuals in ‘club’ deals. However, in 2008 it closed European Strategic Real Estate on €400 million ($630 million) of equity commitments from US investors. The fund invests the equity alongside €325 million from Quinlan’s private UK and Irish clients in a separate vehicle.