Clarification by MRI’ new CEO

NEW CEO AND DIRECTION FOR MRI OP

MRI Overseas Property, DCC International Property

Ending speculation on various trade and investor blogs, the new CEO of MRI Overseas Property, Dominic Pickering, has outlined the company’s plans to focus on construction in 2009.

“We launched 7 or 8 years ago and started constructing at the midway point,” said Pickering. “Most of our profit now comes from construction and the day to day demands, and costs, of marketing are no longer our main focus.”

Pickering told OPP that MRI had gone through a major restructure in the last 3-6 months, closing some of its offices and laying off some staff as the company downsized to adapt to current market conditions. While the board is largely unchanged – Darragh Macanthony is chairman, Paul O’Mahoney is director of construction, and James Forester is marketing director – a significant change is the absence of former CEO Michael Liggan.

“Marketing was always Michael’s forte, so he has set up his own venture,” said Pickering. “This is not an acrimonious departure, and we hope he will send some buyers our way”. This new venture, called DCC International Property, was recently set up by Michael Liggan and is currently promoting projects in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, Spain and USA.

Independent venture

Confirming that DCC was “completely independent” of MRI Overseas Property, Liggan told OPP that: “DCC doesn’t have an exclusive agreement to market or sell MRI developments and currently doesn’t have any other exclusive agreements for the many other developments it will be marketing”.

Clarifying the relationship with MRI and its board, Liggan added: “I have a very close relationship to Darragh MacAnthony; not only was I the CEO for his group of companies for many years but I am also his best friend. Because of this a lot of industry people have assumed that DCC is really MRI in disguise when that simply isn’t the case. The truth of the situation is that Darragh wants to focus more of his time on developing and constructing projects around the world and also developing his football club Peterborough United and trying to get them promoted this season and in the next season until they’re in the Premiership.

“With Darragh not wanting to focus on taking over yet more of his ‘territories’ for his real estate company there is an opportunity for someone like me to want to do this and I believe the industry needs it. With Darragh planning on downsizing MRI Overseas Property I felt that now is the obvious time to go for it. Yes, we’re going through a worldwide credit crunch but times like this are often considered the best time to start a new company and for me that means I have direct access to taking on some of the best staff in the industry and also some of the best offices out there”.

Since DCC is currently promoting MRI projects, and occupying some of the MRI offices that had been closed down, there have been rumours of a rebrand. “It’s not a rebrand,” added Pickering. “We’ve spent 8 years building the MRI brand. We offered DCC the option of taking on the leases of some of our office space in Cyprus and Spain. They took up the offer and have even recruited some of the people we had to let go.”

Outlining plans going forward, Pickering said that it would not be relying on the same traditional marketing methods to sell homes. “As constructors, we still know how to sell,” he said. “But rather than spending thousands on stands at property exhibitions, we will be building a network of agents to partner with. We still have thousands upon thousands of clients on our database who have either purchased or shown interest, so we have various options open to us, but our aim is to build sales networks in the UK, Europe and the US.”

While MRI’s headquarters will remain in Spain, Pickering is based in Orlando in the US and is currently in negotiation with local partners to build this network. He also told OPP that MRI had been actively banking land in Europe and the US over the last year to support its focus on construction.

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