Wednesday 13 December 2017

China's 'Red Bull' billionaire pulls out of €22m Fota Island resort bid

Roisin Burke

NAMA will decide within a matter of weeks whether to keep its five-star Cork resort on the market following the exit of its winning bidder, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort was to be sold to one of China's richest men, but the sale fell through, with the tycoon withdrawing from the multimillion deal.

Dr Chanchai Ruayrungruang, who made his fortune mainly from holding the exclusive rights to import the Red Bull energy drink to China, had 'agreed sale' on the 500-acre luxury island resort for close to €22m – but he exited despite having visited the resort and engaged in an exhaustive due diligence process. A price north of €15m is thought to be nearer to the mark now.

Ruayrungruang's Beijing-based Reignwood Group saw off suitors including Thai golf magnate Andrew Yau, who had also jetted in to Munster in order to run the rule over the Fota property.

Two undisclosed underbidders are now being considered, but with a profitable turnover of €10m a year, the property is not a drain on resources and could be withdrawn from market by Nama if it doesn't get the price it hopes for.

A decision is likely to be taken within the next fortnight on whether to accept another bid for both the asset and the land, or else withdraw the property. It has been on the open market since May last year.

A consortium including golfer John McHenry and hotelier brothers Carl and Gerard Hanratty were among the original bidders, as was Bramden Investments, an Isle of Man-based company with Irish links.

Fota fell into Nama's clutches following the collapse of Cork developer John Fleming's construction company in 2010. Fleming spent more than €90m on its development, having bought it from the Mahon family in 2004.

Irish Independent

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