Iconic golf venue attracts widespread interest
BANKS owed hundreds of millions by Sean Quinn's family have put a world-renowned golf and leisure resort on the market.
The Belfry, a 550-acre resort in Warwickshire in the UK, has hosted four Ryder Cups and many European Tour events.
It was considered a trophy asset when the Quinn family bought it in 2005 for £186m (€225m).
The resort was controlled by Mr Quinn's son, Sean Junior. The family borrowed the money from Bank of Ireland, Barclays and Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to buy it. They now want it sold so they can claw back their loans.
No guide price has been advertised but it is likely to fetch less than half the amount the Quinns paid.
The Quinns' property company itself valued the Belfry at just £88m (€106m) in its last set of accounts.
Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, which has been appointed to handle the sale, said a lot of international buyers had been eyeing-up the 324-bedroom hotel and its three golf courses. Some reports say a wealthy Malaysian investor has already made a £90m (€110m) offer.
George Nicholas, who is dealing with the sale, said investors from around the globe, and particularly from Asia, were expressing interest.
"The Belfry is an iconic golf destination, combining an internationally recognised brand with a successfully trading business," he said. "Quality sales of this nature rarely come on the market."
It expects it could take four to six months at least to sell it.
The Quinn family had ambitious plans for the Belfry.
They envisaged a £150m (€180m) development there that included knocking down the hotel and building a new five-star facility in its place. These plans were never pursued, though, as the property crash brought Sean Quinn's empire down.
The Belfry is said to be trading well.
Situated near Birmingham, the resort claims to have had a strong year in 2011.
Its managing director, Nigel Gray, said yesterday it was "highly profitable" and that it was very much "business as usual".
It was voted England's leading golf resort last year.