Florida dream resort's value has halved, say Irish investors
THE Irish owners of the Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa believe the Florida property known for hosting Tiger Woods' February apology is worth less than half the $250m (€204m) they've ploughed into it.
The valuations emerged in a Jacksonville courtroom this week as Irish investors, including financier Niall McFadden, fended off an attempt to have the resort seized and sold.
A representative for the investors told the court Sawgrass was now valued at between $90m and $100m, just a fraction of the $220.5m they paid for it in 2006.
The investors, including hotelier Paddy Kelly and Mr McFadden have also ploughed another $20m into redeveloping it, using two investment companies called RQB Resort LP and RQB Development.
RQB's bankers Goldman Sachs, which had asked the court for permission to seize the 65-acre resort, said Sawgrass was valued at just over $135m.
The bank took the case in an effort to recoup the $190m plus they're owed from RBQ, a loan which they say has not been serviced since August of last year.
RBQ had previously asked the court for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but Goldman objected, saying the resort's owners had "failed to show that an effective re-organisation is possible within any reasonable time".
The court this week gave RBQ until December 29 to formulate restructuring plans and rejected Goldman's attempt at foreclosure before that time.
The investors, most of whom have never been identified, are expected to attempt to raise significant additional capital, most likely from non-Irish sources.
Sawgrass is believed to be trading well with net operating profits of $6.9m predicted for 2010, though Goldman has disputed whether the resort could ever throw off enough cash to service the massive debt.
The resort includes 508 hotel rooms, a spa and a golf course ranked among the finest in America.