Saturday 17 March 2018

Battle for G Hotel begins as bank moves on Barrett

The stylish G Hotel in Galway continues to trade normally
The stylish G Hotel in Galway continues to trade normally

Ronald Quinlan Commercial Property Editor

A battle for the ownership of Galway's famous G Hotel is underway following a bid by Deutsche Bank to appoint receivers to the business.

The arrival of representatives from KPMG to the premises last Friday came just as staff were preparing to cater for a wedding with 163 guests.

The move is understood to have taken the hotel's owner and developer Gerry Barrett by surprise, coming as it did after two years in which he has worked closely with Deutsche Bank.

The bank has been Mr Barrett's main lender since 2015, having acquired his companies' €778m par value loan book from Nama for a sum in the region of €97m.

The G Hotel was one of the most valuable assets in the portfolio - code-named 'Project Maeve'.

Mr Barrett moved immediately to seek the protection of the High Court with an ex-parte (one-side only) application last Saturday morning for the appointment of an interim examiner to seven of his companies.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted the application, affording the companies protection from Deutsche Bank and their other creditors for a period of 100 days.

In an affidavit supporting the application, the financial controller of Mr Barrett's companies, Vanessa McTigue, said she had been phoned by management at the G Hotel at 1.50pm last Friday with the news that KPMG's representatives were on the premises.

Upon her arrival, Ms McTigue said she found three meeting rooms occupied by KPMG along with personnel from Choice Hotels, whom they intended to appoint as administrators.

Ms McTigue added: "Strong concerns were expressed across the hotel management team that the receiver wanted to interrupt staff who were looking after a wedding of 163 guests.

"I asked if KPMG would hold off until later in the day when the wedding guests were settled, however this request was not entertained."

She further claimed that KPMG's representatives then sought and obtained a list of creditors from the hotel's accountant, which they used to contact the hotel's creditors to notify them of an appointment of a receiver.

Contacted for comment by the Irish Independent, a spokesman for Gerry Barrett issued a statement, saying: "We can confirm that certain companies in the Barrett Group applied for examinership to the High Court, and as a result, Mr Neil Hughes of Baker Tilly Hughes Blake was appointed as interim examiner.

"The directors believed that this was the prudent course of action to protect the business and our 375 employees at this time.

"The various companies are trading profitably and it will be business as usual during this process.

"The examinership relates to a discrete element of the group (less than 20pc of group companies) but does not include the majority of the group's other business interests which remain unaffected.

"These include, amongst others, Scotch Hall Shopping Centre in Drogheda, Bonham Quay in Galway, Tribeton and G Counter in Galway and Bloomfield House in Dublin.

"The Barrett Group has no further statement to make at this time other than to confirm the fact that examinership protection has been sought for certain companies in the Group."

Both KPMG and Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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