Tuesday 6 December 2016

Farnham Estate sale poised to be the biggest outside Dublin in years with €26m price tag

Peter Flanagan Commercial Property Editor

Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30

Radisson Farnham Estate, Co. Cavan
Radisson Farnham Estate, Co. Cavan
Farnham Estate in Cavan
Farnham Estate
Farnham Estate in Cavan
Radisson Blu Farnham Estate, Cavan

The biggest hotel sale outside Dublin since 2014 is set to take place after the Farnham Golf & Spa Resort was put on the market with a guide price of €26m.

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The Co Cavan hotel has been put on the market on the instructions of the Receiver, Aiden Murphy of Crowe Howarth, who was appointed by Nama.

The sale is being managed by property broker Savills.

The planned sale will be an unusually sharp turnaround by Nama. It only appointed the Receiver less than two months ago. But in a sign of just how strong the hotel market is at present, the property has quickly been put on the block.

The hotel trades under the Radisson brand, but is available with or without current management agreement or franchise. If the asking price is achieved, it will be the biggest regional hotel sale since businessman JP McManus paid close to €30m for Adare Manor two years ago.

Savills Ireland head of hotels and leisure Tom Barrett, who is handling the sale, commented: "Farnham Estate is one of the largest and most profitable hotel estates in Ireland." He said the estate "will appeal to both Irish and international buyers".

The hotel is well known as a wedding venue, with 121 there last year. It also has conference facilities as well as a championship golf course. The huge estate is one of its main selling points, as is a 40,000 sq ft spa.

The hotel was developed by pharmacist Roy McCabe at a reported cost of €85m. Mr McCabe paid around €6.35m for the property from the 12th Lord Farnham in 2001. Many hotels are on the market, as sales within the sector surge. The sale of Gresham Hotel in Dublin is expected to be agreed this month, while Blackstone has put the former Burlington Hotel in Dublin on the market.

Fitzpatrick Lifestyle Hotels is seeking €130m for its three Dublin hotels - the Morgan, the Spencer and the Beacon Hotel - while numerous smaller properties are also for sale.

Farnham is expected a large number of bidders. Tetrarch Capital took over a similar property - Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny - and is known to looking at other acquisitions.

Meanwhile, the hedge fund managed by billionaire investor George Soros has cut its stake in Hibernia Reit, in the latest sign of opportunistic buyers reducing their exposure to Irish companies.

In a stock exchange announcement, Hibernia said Soros Fund Management had cut its holding in Hibernia from 5.64pc to 3.77pc.

The move is yet another indicator that the "fast money" is leaving the Irish market, and property in particular. Another hedge fund, Paulson & Co, has steadily cut its stake in Hibernia peer Green Reit to under 3pc this year, having at one stage held over 9pc of that company.

Those investors are being replaced in turn by large, so-called mature investors who are seen as buying into companies for the long term.

While Soros Fund Management was selling down its holding, Edinburgh-based asset manager Standard Life was increasing its holding.

Irish Independent

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