Sunday 29 May 2016

International buyers set to battle it out for the €80m Gresham which goes on sale today

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

The Gresham Hotel in Dublin
The Gresham Hotel in Dublin
An archive Irish Independent picture of a Viennese ball at the Gresham Hotel in 1954.

NAMA will seek €80m for the Gresham Hotel when it formally puts it up for sale today.

CBRE and Christies have been tasked with selling the iconic Dublin hotel, which will be one of the last major hotel sales after the property crash.

The Gresham, which opened in 1817, is by far the most prestigious hotel on the northside of Dublin.

It has hosted numerous stars through the years, from Grace Kelly to The Beatles, and for decades was the base of teams playing in the All Ireland Finals.

The hotel is owned by Precint Investments, which took over the hotel in 2004 in a €117m buyout of Gresham Hotel Group.

Debt associated with that buyout resulted in Nama taking over loans tied to the Gresham in 2011. Precinct is profitable at an operating level. Precinct's 2014 accounts - the most recent available - valued the Gresham at just under €50m.

A host of potential buyers are likely to cast their eye over the property in the weeks ahead.

Dalata has been the big buyer of domestic hotels since the crash and chief executive Pat McCann has made no secret of his interest in the Gresham.

He has admitted though that the sale price may be beyond his firm.

Windward Management is headed by former Gresham chief executive Patrick Coyle and teamed up with Boston-based Pyramid Hotel Group to buy the Temple bar Hotel last year and is likely to bid.

Other potential buyers include Goldman Sachs while US media mogul John Malone has bought a string of Irish hotels since the crash.

The Gresham is being sold as an "unencumbered" asset, meaning the buyer could drop the name and replace it with a big brand if it wished. The hotel sits on 1.3-acre site at the corner of O'Connell Street and Cathal Brugha Street. The floor area extends to 20,775 sq m (223,620 sq ft). Importantly, the property comes with planning permission to extend the hotel by more than 50pc to 345,000 sq ft if necessary. The property was remodelled into the art decor style it is known for in the 1920s. It features 323 rooms and, after improvements made by Precinct, now has 10 suites. The Eisenhower Suite, named after the US president who stayed there, opened in 2013.

With five bedrooms and a floor area of 280 sq m, it is the biggest hotel suite in the country. It is available for around €4,000 per night. CBRE's Paul Collins and Christies' Dave Murray are managing the sale, which is likely to conclude before the end of the year.

Irish Independent

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