Diamond Centre in receivership

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COLERAINE’S Diamond Centre has gone into receivership, The Coleraine Times can exclusively reveal.

Management of the Bridge Street shopping centre were informed of the shock news late on Friday afternoon.

A statement by chartered accountants, BDO, Belfast, issued on Monday, said: “Brian Murphy and Michael Jennings of BDO Northern Ireland have been appointed as joint administrative receivers over Bishopsgate Shopping Centres Limited (part of the ‘Valto’ Group) at the request of its directors on 25 October 2013.

“The appointments form part of a planned restructuring of the Group’s business activities undertaken with the support of the Group’s bankers.

“The Group holds a number of commercial property assets and investments which continue to trade as normal.

“The joint administrative receivers are confident that there will be keen market interest in the portfolio.

“In the meantime, it is expected that further lettings will be secured.”

Gwyneth McQuiston, manager of the Diamond Centre, told The Coleraine Times in a statement on Monday: ““We were informed late on Friday afternoon by BDO that Bishopsgate Shopping Centres Ltd - owners of the Diamond Centre - have gone into receivership.

“However, despite this disappointing news, we wish to make it clear that it’s very much business as usual at The Diamond Centre.

“I’ve been told that BDO will inform all the tenants of the situation and keep us informed of any further developments.”

BDO is expected to hold further meetings with the Diamond Centre managment later this week.

The property firm, Valto Ltd was owned by brothers Shamus and Francis Jennings.

A spokesperson for Valto said its main lender, Ulster Bank, “has provided assistance throughout the process”.

Ulster Bank was owed about £120m when Valto’s most recent accounts were filed in January this year.

Valto reported a £21m loss in its 2012 accounts, which came on top of a £36m loss in the 18 months to March 2011.

The restructuring will mean the Saint Anne’s Square development in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter will transfer into the ownership of the Ducales Group, whose principal shareholder is Shamus Jennings.