Senior AIB executives quit to join property firm Bartra

Recruitment of top property executives to add experience to Richard Barrett's new venture

Two senior executives from AIB's property lending division have left to join Bartra Capital, a recently-established property group set up by former Treasury Holdings co-owner and barrister Richard Barrett.

David Renwick, head of property lending at AIB corporate and institutional banking, and Paul Dowling, head of development and specialist property at the bank's property lending unit, left the State-controlled financial institution yesterday.

AIB declined to comment on their departures. However, it is expected the pair will have to serve a period of “gardening leave” before taking up their roles with Bartra.

It is understood they will advise property developers seeking non-bank debt financing, with a particular focus on international investment groups.


Blow to AIB

Their recruitment will add considerable experience to Bartra’s fledgling business and would be regarded as a blow to AIB.

The pair were involved in two major financing deals recently – Cairn Homes’ securing of a €150 million debt facility and the €400 million funding package put together by Michael O’Flynn to regain control of his business in Ireland.

Earlier this year, AIB set up a new property unit headed by Mr Renwick to act as a “centre of excellence” for all of its property-related finance activities. At the time, Mr Renwick said AIB was “open for business” and planned to support growth within the construction and property sectors as the economy recovered.

Mr Barrett owned Treasury with Johnny Ronan and it was one of the most successful Irish property development groups in the boom era. But the property crash left it with massive debt and it was wound up by KBC Bank Ireland and the National Asset Management Agency.

Irish market focus

Treasury had significant operations in China and Mr Barrett has based himself in Shanghai in recent times. However, the establishment of Bartra in Dublin suggests he intends to focus more time on the Irish market.

Bartra is believed to have been an unsuccessful bidder for one of the tranches in Ulster Bank’s Project Clear portfolio of loans, which are connected with residential development land in the Dublin area.

Mr Renwick and Mr Dowling could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr Renwick’s LinkedIn page says he has spent 25 years in the financial services industry, with experience in corporate and commercial lending, property finance, structured finance, corporate finance, work-out/ criticised case management, and insolvency.

Mr Dowling’s LinkedIn page describes him as a “natural innovator and high achiever focused on maximising results through innovation, strategy, leadership and an extensive network of business leaders as a result of 14 years’ experience in the European real estate finance sector”.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times