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Businesswoman Deirdre Foley shared in multimillion payout from Clerys site sale

The famous department store was sold to Press Up.

The iconic Clery's building on O'Connell Street.
The iconic Clery's building on O'Connell Street.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

DUBLIN-BASED BUSINESSWOMAN Deirdre Foley last year shared in a €16.49 million dividend payout arising from the sale of the former Clerys department store site to the Press Up Group.

Last year, Paddy McKillen Jnr’s Press Up Group, along with a division of the New York based real estate firm Rockefeller Group and Core Capital, snapped up the site on Dublin’s O’Connell Street for around €63 million in a deal with the Natrium consortium.

New accounts filed by Natrium Ltd show that Foley would have received €3.29 million in dividends – before tax – from the firm’s €16.49 million dividend payout based on her 20% shareholding of the business.

London-based Cheyne Capital received the vast bulk of the dividend payout at €13.19 million arising from its 80% share of Natrium.

It is now over four years since Ms Foley, as the public face of Natrium, found herself at the centre of controversy over the contentious purchase and subsequent shock closure of the famous Dublin department store.

Natrium bought the department store for €29 million from US group Gordon Brothers in June 2015, which very quickly resulted in 130 Clery employees and 330 people working for concession holders losing their jobs with the closure of the store.

Natrium subsequently secured planning permission for a €150 million mixed use development and new owner, the Press Up Group, is continuing with construction work on Clery’s Quarter today. It is expected to provide over 400 jobs when complete.

The accounts for Natrium show that it last year repaid the outstanding balance of €2.3 million to Foley’s FAM Assets Ltd as a result of a loan of €1.9 million advanced by FAM Assets Ltd to Natrium in 2015.

9929 Clerys workers_90506260 Deirdre Foley is the director of Natrium. Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

In addition, €600,000 which was owing by Natrium to Foley’s FAM Assets in prior years was repaid last year.

The accounts also show that Natrium paid Foley’s FAM Acquisitions Ltd €395,536 for services provided in the 12 months to the end of November last.

The controversy around the circumstances of the redundancies has resulted in a number of court proceedings including two High Court judicial review cases.

Last year, a district court judge struck out all remaining summons against Foley concerning the redundancies.

A note attached to the accounts states that Natrium is obliged to reimburse legal costs incurred by directors and Foley has sought an indemnity from the company in respect of all legal costs associated with all legal proceedings. 

Natrium state that it established a legal provision last year of €436,725 as an estimate of the likely legal bill and the amount paid during the year was €239,926.

The accounts show that two companies in the Natrium consortium recorded significant profits last year – OCS Investment Holdings Ltd recorded a profit of €38.9m last year with connected firm OCS Properties Ltd recording a profit of €11.18m in 2018.

Both firms ceased operation during the year.

The accounts also show that last year, Natrium repaid a loan of €11.55 million to a Cheyne Capital firm.

Speaking earlier this year on the eve of work commencing on Clerys Quarter, Foley said that she was “delighted to see the exciting plans for Clerys Quarter and I wish the developers every success. Their aspirations for this site vindicate our vision when we bought in 2015″. 

“We helped lay the groundwork for the redevelopment. Natrium saw the potential for this wonderful property on an iconic street which had been neglected for 40 years,” she added. 

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Gordon Deegan

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