Northern Ireland

Belfast's Obel building 'is repossessed'

Obel building
Image caption The Obel is Belfast's tallest building

Belfast's tallest building, the Obel, has been effectively repossessed.

Administrators have been appointed to Obel Ltd, Obel Offices Ltd and Donegall Quay Ltd the three firms which control the office and residential complex.

The main firm, Donegall Quay, owes the former Bank of Scotland Ireland (BoSI) more than £51m according to its last set of accounts filed in 2011.

BoSI has been shut down by its parent company, Lloyds Banking Group. Its loan book is being aggressively wound down.

The Obel consists of a 28-storey residential tower and an adjoining six-storey office block.

It was launched onto the market in 2005 and dozens of apartments were sold off plan, mainly to buy-to-let investors.

However as the property market crashed sales slowed and many of the apartments are still empty.

Most of the office block is let to the international law firm Allen & Overy.

The administration will have no effect on tenants or any owners of apartments in the development.

The Obel project was originally backed by a consortium of developers, but in 2008 the Blackbourne family took full control, buying out their partners with the backing of BoSI.

The Blackbournes have other business interests which are unaffected by the administration of the Obel firms. One of the owners, Aaron Blackbourne, said he could not comment.

This is the latest in a series of high profile projects to face enforced action from BoSI - it was the lender to the Lough Erne golf resort, Comber Mill Village and the firm which built the Four Corners Hotel in Belfast's Catherdral Quarter.

Earlier this month Lloyds sold £1.47bn of BoSI loans to an investment company for just £149m, equating to a 90% loss.

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