Sunday 19 November 2017

Kavanagh firm 'out of Touche'

The former La Touche Hotel in Greystones
The former La Touche Hotel in Greystones

He's been described as the property market's Ronaldo, but one of the companies belonging to Wicklow's Greg Kavanagh (30) has been called offside for its plans to build 26 homes - some of them within the retained shell of the former La Touche Hotel in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

The developers want to demolish some premises on the hotel site.

The hotel building has been derelict for more than a decade. It was closed in 2004, and previous plans to develop the site have failed to gain traction.

The former hotel - apparently haunted (by ghosts of the recession, perhaps) - has suffered from acts of vandalism, but despite its state it was still attracting a €15m price tag in 2009.

A receiver subsequently sold it for far less.

One Greystones resident has called on An Bord Pleanala to rule that the plans submitted by Kavanagh's company for the site should be scaled back, claiming the local infrastructure, particularly roads, won't be able to cope.

Kavanagh and associate Pat Crean also own a company called New Generation, which has been extremely busy.

They have plans for "several thousand" housing units on sites across Dublin.

New Generation is backed by UK fund manager M&G (the investment arm of Prudential) as well as US private equity giant Starwood.

We'll always have Paris

The executive team at hotel group Dalata have been on a whirlwind tour of investor meetings over the past two weeks since announcing plans to raise €160m in equity.

Chief executive Pat McCann and his team were finishing up the punishing trek in Paris last week. He told the Punt that they'd had a few meetings there and had previously been in New York, Boston, London, Dublin and Edinburgh.

They've met 68 investors and potential backers in the two-week period, which makes for an awful lot of tea, coffee and biscuits.

Speaking from the City of Light last week, McCann told the Punt that once the equity has been raised, the group will then start working in earnest on raising an additional €80m or so in debt that Dalata has also previously flagged to shareholders.

Dalata is Ireland's biggest hotel group and will also be among those kicking the tyres at the iconic Gresham Hotel in Dublin when it comes up for sale, which it's expected to any time now.

Lufthansa's Latin call

Lufthansa's regional manager for the UK, Ireland and Iceland, Christian Schindler, was in Dublin last week, where he met the press at Buswells Hotel - that den of deal-making for politicians from across the road at Dail Eireann.

Schindler spoke about Lufthansa's operations in Dublin and how well they've been doing. Load factors - a measure of how many available seats a carrier fills - are approaching 90pc on its services to and from the capital, with 80pc of the travellers originating from outside the country.

Somewhat surprisingly, he said that the most popular long-haul destination on the Lufthansa network for flyers originating in Ireland is Brazil.

Something to do, no doubt, with the thousand of Brazilians who now call Ireland home.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show there were 4,388 Brazilian nationals living in Ireland in 2006.

By 2011 that figure had risen to 8,704.

Russia and China are also other popular end destinations for Irish flyers on Lufthansa's network.

During the summer, the Lufthansa group airlines have been operating 40 flights a week out of Dublin. The figure will drop to 34 during the winter.

Irish Independent

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