JOHN Gallagher, the so-called "smartest man in the room", has revealed that he personally owns a 6.3 per cent stake in €150m-valued listed financial services group IFG.
Gallagher was widely credited with pushing through a series of lightning deals that saw the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group taken private by the Doyle family for €1.4bn before their debt was cleared through the sale of the Ballsbridge hotels and Jurys Inns business to debt-crazed developers, including Sean Dunne, Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan. The extended Doyle family was left with a group of luxury hotels, including the Westbury, and hundreds of millions in cash.
Dealmaker Gallagher, also the front man for rock band Dakota 66, is married to Bernie Gallagher, one of hotelier PV Doyle's daughters and now one of the driving forces behind the new hotel group.
Gallagher was one of the backers of Fiordland Investment, which built up a stake in IFG, as a takeover battle erupted for the firm. A bid from rival private equity group Bregal Capital was rebuffed. Fiordland holds a 19 per cent stake in IFG. After the takeover frenzy abated, IFG embarked on a process of returning cash to shareholders and paying down debt. Last year IFG offloaded its international business to AnaCap partners for around €87m. The division accounted for around one-third of IFG's operating profits.
It is clear that Fiordland is exerting considerable control over the company as last week veteran chairman Joe Moran stepped down. He was replaced by Gallagher. The business man revealed that between his stake in Fiordland and a separate holding through an entity called Yellow Live, he now owns a 6.3 per cent stake in IFG.