Monday 24 November 2014

Irish entrepreneur outbids US billionaire in €15m Mount Juliet purchase

Smiles Dental founder Emmet O'Neill (35) and Brehon Partners finalise deal

Published 05/06/2014 | 15:31

Mount Juliet
Smiles Dental founder, Emmet O’Neill. Photo: Mark Condren
Mount Juliet
A view of the 18th green at Mount Juliet Golf Club.
Overlooking the fairways: 12 Fox Covert in Mount Juliet, was worth about €5m at peak and is now asking €2.5m

Irish entrepreneur Emmet O'Neill (35) and Brehon Capital Partners have sealed the deal to buy five-star hotel and golf resort Mount Juliet for an estimated €15m.

Billionaire Irish American businessman - Liberty Global's John Malone - also ran the rule over the business which is based in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.

Mr O'Neill and joint partners Brehon have been in discussions to buy the golf resort and spa for some time - Mount Juliet is being sold by the Mahony family, which has owned it since 1987.

UCD commerce graduate Mr O'Neill sold his Smiles Dental business to UK group Oasis Healthcare.Sources earlier this year for around £30m (€36m).

He founded the chain after a trip to teeth-whitening haven Florida.

Killeen Group, the Mahony family's holding company whose main interest is motor business Toyota Ireland, confirmed earlier this year that it had placed the Thomastown, Co Kilkenny property up for sale.

It includes a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

The new owners plan to invest in expanding the 86 bedroom resort by adding over 30 new bedrooms and upgrading the spa and swimming pool facilities.

Mount Juliet Resort is set on 500 acres in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, comprises Mount Juliet House, The Hunters Yard Club House, The Rose Garden Lodges, The Jack Nicklaus designed Golf Course and golfing academy and an Equestrian Centre.

Mr O’Neill said: “As a visitor to the Mount Juliet Estate for many years I am absolutely thrilled to be involved in supporting the continued development and growth of the business.

"Mount Juliet is the pre-eminent golf destination in Ireland and will continue to hold this position under the new ownership.”

The sale of Mount Juliet Resort does not include Ballylinch Stud which will continue to be owned by Killeen Group.

Mr Malone started showing an interest in Irish property a few years ago and since then he has bought the Hilton Hotel and the Trinity Capital Hotel in Dublin, and the Wicklow mansion Humewood Castle. The latter purchase – a splendid, rambling mock Gothic pile on 400 acres – was made after it took his wife's fancy.

Ailish O'Hora

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