THE biggest private landowner in the United States is planning to fork out nearly €28m for the former estate of businessman Tony O'Reilly.
Media mogul John Malone, who controls cable company UPC among several interests, has agreed terms to buy the Castlemartin estate in Co Kildare.
While the deal has yet to formally close, terms are understood to have been agreed and contracts have been arranged, although the actual payment has yet to be made.
At that price the deal would be one of the most expensive in the history of the State. The Lyons estate in Celbridge changed hands for about €25m last March, while a house known as Walford in Dublin 4 cost €58m in 2005.
The Castlemartin estate includes a period house and 750 acres of top-quality stud farm and related lands. The property is being sold on the instructions of AIB, to whom Mr O'Reilly's companies owe over €22m. The 1720-built mansion has eight bedrooms and spans 26,000 sqm. The complex also has a swimming pool and an ice-house.
As well as Mr Malone, Limerick businessman JP McManus is believed to have run the rule over the property before buying Adare Manor, while a number of Asian investors are also believed to have explored bidding.
Last month, it was reported that serious bids had been made for Castlemartin within days of it being formally put on the market by agents Knight Frank and Jordan Town & Country.
Castlemartin is the latest in a string of purchases in Ireland by Mr Malone, who is known to be proud of his Irish heritage.
The 73-year-old controls Liberty Media, a US television and communications conglomerate. It is the parent company of Irish cable TV provider UPC.
Mr Malone, who is worth an estimated $7.5bn, owns about 2.1 million acres in the US but has gone on a shopping spree in Ireland since the crash.
In 2012, he bought Humewood Castle for €8m, and has followed that up with numerous hotels and lands.
He paid an estimated €72m for the Westin Hotel in central Dublin this summer, as well as €20m for the Limerick Strand Hotel.
He missed out on Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny but bought the Ballylinch Stud in Co Kildare as a going concern earlier this month.