HEARTS boss Vladimir Romanov is set to lose millions of pounds after being forced to sell a former bank building at a knock-down price.
Mr Romanov bought the historic Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters at the peak of the economic boom in 2007 for around £20 million.
But experts say he is unlikely to get more than half his money back.
The complex includes an A-listed building in St Andrew Square which bridges on to a modern building in West Register Street. Romanov had initially planned to convert both into a boutique hotel.
The investment company UBIG, owned by Mr Romanov, is now selling the West Register Street part of the site to a hotel developer. It is also believed that offers for the historic RBS building will be considered in order to raise capital.
Charles Guest, a partner at property firm Ryden, said: “It is a magnificant site and if it was inLondon it would, ironically, be the headquarters of some foreign bank but there’s not a lot of demand for that here.
“He [Romanov] paid a top of the market price for it at the top of the market and hence lies the problem. He’ll be lucky if he gets as much as half that now.”
The main building dates back to 1942 and was headquarters of RBS until 2006.
The West Register Street building was used for administration and was expected to be refurbished by My Romanov’s company but planning permission was never applied for.
Mark Jones, a director at property firm DTZ, which has undertaken the responsibility for selling the West Register Street building said: “It is a good quality core city centre site close to the station and the trams when they are operational, with links to the airport”.
He added: “It is also an internationally well-known location and all these factors make it attractive to retail, hotel, office or whatever else.”
The building also includes a ground floor retail unit with space for offices above. There is also a Greggs and the building reaches back to the Cafe Royal.
The other building at St Andrew Square was added to Scotland’s Buildings At Risk Register due to concerns about “signs of deterioration” and because it had been empty for such a long period of time.
Cllr Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “Like gap sites, you don’t want buildings lying empty for considerable amounts of time”.
He continued: “We would be keen to see some form of development around that site and if a hotel operator came forward we would not discourage that. It would add to the living nature of the street because more people would be about the street for longer. I am sure UBIG would also be keen to get some return on the investment they made at the top of the market.”
It is understood the buildings at Register Street are now under offer to a hotel developer and a deal is expected in the next few months.