Northern Ireland

Receivers appointed to former MAR properties

Bank of Scotland has appointed receivers to nine properties that were owned by one of Northern Ireland's biggest development firms.

The properties in County Down, Belfast and Carrick had been owned by Bangor-based MAR Properties and five subsidiary firms.

In 2011 the bank placed a MAR subsidiary, Wen Inns, into administration.

MAR's last set of accounts, for 2009, showed an annual loss of £22m.

The properties include shop units on Bangor's Main Street and the Mountpottinger YMCA building on the Albertbridge Road in Belfast.

The receiverships do not have any impact on the tenants of the buildings.

In a statement MAR said: "Whilst regrettable, the appointment of fixed charge receivers specific to these nine assets is part of a consensual agreement reached between MAR Properties and the Lloyds Banking Group, with whom we continue to have a healthy working relationship.

"The agreement is in line with Lloyds overall strategy to wind down its Irish property loan book and should have no impact on the core trading activities of the MAR Group".

The Bangor retail development is currently being advertised for sale with an asking price of £1.5m.

The other properties are houses and development sites in Kircubbin, Groomsport, Bangor, Ballywalter, all in County Down, and Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

In 2007 MAR submitted a planning application to convert the upper floors of the YMCA into flats but it was refused.

The loans relating to all the properties were made by the former Bank of Scotland Ireland (BoSI).

BoSI has been effectively shut down by its ultimate owner, Lloyds Banking Group, and its loan book is being aggressively wound down.

The bank was one of the largest property banks across Ireland during the bubble years and its lending practices have led to enormous losses.

MAR has investments in more than 60 subsidiary companies and joint ventures, covering a diverse range of properties in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Canada.

Some of its bank loans are now controlled by the the Irish government's National Assets Management Agency (Nama).