Russian billionairess seeks more posh hotels in Ireland
Russia's richest woman and Morrison Hotel owner Elena Baturina is actively seeking further Irish acquisitions for her €200m hotel fund.
She is watching closely as Nama preps several four-star properties for market in the coming weeks, including the Trinity Capital, the Clarion IFSC and Clarion Airport hotels in Dublin.
The Russian construction billionaire may buy up to five hotels in the Irish market as part of plans to develop 14 four-star properties in Europe by 2015.
Ms Baturina and Austrian hotel operator Martinez Hotel and Resorts group are "definitely" seeking further hotels here, a source with knowledge of her plans has said.
"New projects depend on what is available on the market; it's a question of attractive possibilities. But most importantly, they are definitely looking." Prospective buys are not confined to the Dublin market.
Martinez, which runs the Morrison hotel, recently signed a deal with Hilton Worldwide to roll out the Double Tree brand in Ireland, but new Baturina hotel buys may or may not be part of this franchise, depending on what sort of acquisitions are made.
A Dublin hotel sector agent told this paper that Ms Baturina was expected to make four or five Irish acquisitions in the near term.
Named by Forbes as Russia's wealthiest woman, the ex-factory worker left Russia after the ousting of her husband, former Moscow mayor and power figure Yury Luzhkov, following a clash with Vladimir Putin's regime. She now lives between Britain and Austria.
She made her fortune in construction in Russia in the 1990s, selling a company, Ineco, worth over €1bn in 2011.
Ms Baturina's Austria-based company Beneco Privatstiftung bought the Morrison for €22m last year and put €7m into renovating it, before reopening this month.
She has previously been quoted as saying that the Morrison Hotel was a pilot project for further investments in Ireland.