Development company that promised 3,000 jobs goes bust

Posted on March 14, 2014 · Posted in Belfast Telegraph

A property investment company involved in The Outlet in Banbridge and which was behind proposals for major retail schemes in Larne, Londonderry and Omagh has gone into liquidation. The Orana Group had hoped to generate over 3,000 jobs and more than £600m of investment into Northern Ireland.  It was backed by politicians of several parties.

 

Orana comprised a complex network of companies.  Most or all of those registered in Northern Ireland entered administration or liquidation in recent years, with company accounts showing their parent companies were based in Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands.  Now one of those parent companies – Orana Investments (Bridgewater Park) Ltd – has also gone into liquidation.  The liquidators, James Robert Toynton and Alan John Roberts of Grant Thornton, declined to comment or provide information.

 

Several other companies in the group had already ceased trading, though some of the projects are proceeding under new ownership.  The Outlet is now owned by West Register, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.  Planning permission for a retail development site proposed for Crescent Link in Derry is being pursued by KPMG as administrators for an Orana company.  Companies in the group that ceased trading include Cordev Ltd, previously known as GML (NI) Ltd; GML (Estates) Ltd; GML (Bridgewater Park) Ltd; Bridgewater Management Ltd; and GSB Guernsey Trading Ltd.

 

The Belfast office for Orana and GML has closed.  The phone number for the companies’ chief executive John Farmer now rings unobtainable and an email to him went unanswered.  It is unclear whether the ultimate parent company in the British Virgin Islands is still trading: accounts for companies registered in the British Virgin Islands are not published and the company is not listed in the Islands’ phone directory, nor does it have a website.

 

George Long, who acted for investors supporting Orana’s development projects, said that key projects are continuing without the involvement of Orana companies.  He said that Opportunity Omagh, a major retail scheme in which Tesco was to be anchor tenant, was proceeding, as was a scheme for a large shopping centre to be built on the Larne Football Club ground.

 

Other projects that Orana had put forward included a multi-million pound data centre at Bridgend in County Donegal, a few metres from its border with Derry.  It had previously proposed a Darren Clarke Golf Academy in Banbridge and other major projects in Belfast, Limavady and Strabane, details of which had not been announced.

 

Orana’s largest completed scheme was The Outlet, which was taken over by West Register in 2011.  It now has more than 50 tenants, employing about 500 staff.  The shopping centre recently announced that it is to undergo a major refurbishment and improvement.