Wednesday 13 December 2017

Fitzgerald pub dynasty in €66m dividend windfall

Quays Bar Temple Bar
Quays Bar Temple Bar

Gordon Deegan

The Fitzgerald family, who control some of the country's best known pubs, have booked a dividend windfall of €66.45m.

The dividend for the family follows a restructuring of the Louis Fitzgerald-led business.

The group's Ocsas Holdings Ltd booked a profit of €46m last year from the internal group transfer.

Some of the pub businesses transferred to the Fitzgerald entity, Velves Ltd, at a net book value in November 2014 include the Quays Bar in Temple Bar, the Big Tree, Kehoes and the Louis Fitzgerald hotel.

The overall net book value of the assets disposed to Velves totalled €147m.

The restructure was signalled in Ocsas's 2014 accounts. A note said the group underwent a restructure whereby two intermediate holding companies were introduced for commercial reasons.

The Ocsas business is owned by a Fitzgerald vehicle, Cregagh Investments, and the shareholders of that firm in line for the €66.45m dividend are listed as Louis Fitzgerald, Helen Fitzgerald, Edward Fitzgerald and Louise Fitzgerald.

The Fitzgeralds' net gain from the dividend payout is not known as the costs to the overall group of the restructuring are not disclosed as consolidated accounts for Velves Ltd overseeing the sold off pub firms are not yet available.

Arising from the profit from the sell-off, Ocsas Holdings Ltd recorded a pre-tax profit of €49.89m in the 12 months to the end of June last.

As a result of the new slimmed down Ocsas Holdings Ltd after the sell-off, revenues at Ocsas last year halved from €56.58m to €28.5m.

Ocsas's operating profits fell from €8m to €4.47m.

According to the directors' report, despite difficult trading conditions and the pressures on the licensed trade and hotel industry as a whole, the group recorded the operating profits of €4.47m.

The directors state that the Ocsas's earnings before exceptional items, interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation totalled €6.2m compared to €13.47m for the prior year.

Ocsas had shareholder funds of €72.88m at the start of the firm's financial year and this became a shareholders' deficit of €16.3m by year end arising chiefly from the dividend payout. The numbers employed by the group fell from 674 to 331 last year - that includes 305 bar staff and 21 managers.

Irish Independent

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