Business Irish

Saturday 17 March 2018

Family feud forces sale of Doonbeg golf resort for €70m

Doonbeg golf resort in Co Clare.
Doonbeg golf resort in Co Clare.
Greg Norman and Padraig Harrington at the opening of the links course which was designed by Norman

Gordon Deegan

A family row has resulted in the sale of the exclusive €70m Doonbeg golf resort in Co Clare to a US-based property investment firm.

The court battle between cousins, the chairman and CEO of Kiawah Partners, Charles 'Buddy' Darby and Leonard Long has resulted in the sale of the entire Kiawah portfolio that also includes Kiawah Island, which staged the 1991 Ryder Cup.

The new owners of Doonbeg, South Street Partners, said the new management is "evaluating" Kiawah's overseas holdings, but no immediate changes are planned as a result of the ownership shake-up.

A spokesman for Doonbeg golf club yesterday declined to state what value was placed on the Clare resort that contains the Greg Norman-designed links course in the deal. He described as "pure speculation" reports that the entire deal is valued at between $360m and $400m.

The coastal resort opened 11 years ago and has yet to record a profit.

In its most recent accounts for 2011, losses increased to €6.4m in spite of revenues going up by 16pc to €10.4m.

The resort in high season employs 245 and the Kiawah Partners have invested more than €67m in the project, with planning permission in place for an additional 61 holiday properties.

"Doonbeg has been given assurances by South Street Partners that it is to be business as usual," the Doonbeg spokesman said.

"Over the coming months South Street will be evaluating the total Kiawah portfolio and no doubt then they will decide on the strategy going forward.

"For now it is most definitely business as usual as we face into a busy summer," manager, Joe Russell said.

"Doonbeg continues to perform well in these most challenging of times.

"The new owners are fully aware of the challenges faced in Ireland but equally they are aware of the unique nature of the Doonbeg project."

Irish Independent

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