Wednesday 21 February 2018

Canny scions of the hotel business, economics graduate Bernie - one of the heirs to the PV Doyle hotel empire - and John, both 58, also know a thing or two about the importance of timing in business. The couple, who live in a mansion in Blackrock in south Co Dublin, sold off most of the empire's assets to developers Derek Quinlan, Sean Dunne and Bernard McNamara for more than €1.8bn in the years leading up to the peak of the property boom.

Shortly after the first deal with Quinlan in 2005, Gallagher called the top of the market, saying there was no upside left in it. He was more or less on the money. Together with the Beatty, Roche and Monahan families that had co-owned the hotel empire with them, they are thought to have shared about €1bn.

Doing so enabled the Gallagher couple to clear their debts and walk away with a portfolio of eight remaining hotels, now called The Doyle Collection, which they co-own with the aforementioned three families. It includes the Westbury and River Lee, two in London and one in Washington that are valued at about €600m, though there is understood to be about €300m of debt. They own 25pc of the business. The couple's investment vehicle, Crownway, also previously backed businesses in the security, energy, water and waste sectors.

The firm also snapped up the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, which Harry Crosbie spent €80m developing, for a bargain €28m. There are also office blocks and shops here and in Poland. It's thought that they sold off a stake in the theatre last year, and they also reportedly put money into broadband infrastructure group eNet. While John is the chairman of financial outfit IFG, in which he's thought to have a 6pc stake, in his spare time he's the lead singer of Dakota 66, a rock band which has played at Electric Picnic a few times.

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