Harry Crosbie’s Bord Gáis theatre for sale at €20m

€80 million theatre shows sharp fall in value since 2010

Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 08:56

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatrein the Dublin docklands, is to be offered for sale on the international market at over €20 million – a long way short of the €80 million spent on developing and launching it in 2010.

Commercial agent CBRE is handling the sale following Nama’s appointment of receivers Paul McCann and Stephen Tennent of Grant Thornton to the theatre company controlled by businessman Harry Crosbie. The original funding was provided by AIB.

Sean O’Brien of CBRE says the theatre will be seen as a “trophy asset” by theatre operators as well as local and international investors either wanting to capitalise on the improving economy or with an interest in diversifying their portfolios after heavy buying of office stock.

Naming rights

The 2,111-seat theatre is operated by Live Nation, one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies, and has been steadily building up of its revenues and its audiences.

It has staged 1,178 performances since 2010 including Swan Lake, Lion King, Wicked and War Horse.

By year end-the number of performances is expected to reach 1,500.

The revenues have also been growing, reaching €7,649,438 in 2012 and rising to €8,099,106 in 2013.

The income accruing to the theatre owner has not been disclosed but it is understood that the improved trading this year could push the overall return close to €2 million.

The parties likely to be interested in acquiring it may well include the The Ambassador Theatre Group in the UK, Live Nation, Denis Desmond’s MCD, Aiken Promotions, the Marker Hotel, US investors Kennedy Wilson, the Doyle family owned Crownway Investments and IPUT, the property fund which recently made several major office investments in the south docklands.

Designed by the internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the theatre is widely recognised as the jewel in the crown of the vibrant new urban quarter around Grand Canal Square.

Having been purpose-built for ballet, opera and large scale musicals and with a full orchestra pit, excellent technical and backstage facilities and six bars, it has succeeded in attracting major theatrical productions that were previously unable to visit Ireland. It was originally launched as the Grand Canal Theatre but less than a year later Bord Gáis paid €4.5 million for the naming rights to the centre for six years.

Live Nation’s lease on the building is understood to have several years to run.

Long-running dispute

The theatre was developed by Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land in exchange for a number of prime office sites beside it owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

The six-storey over basement building has an overall floor area of 10,882sq m (117,132sq ft) and stands on a site extending to 0.32 of a hectare (0.82 of an acre) with a frontage of 55 metres on to Grand Canal Square.

The theatre complements the larger 14,000 capacity 02 across the river Liffey on the north side. Crosbie also had a 50 per cent stake in 02 through Amphitheatre Ireland Ltd (AIL) but under pressure from Nama sold his interests to AIL for €35 million.

In 2009, Crosbie’s property and entertainment projects owed their banks more than €500 million which has since been reduced to over €420 million.

When his loans were transferred to Nama from AIB in 2010, Crosbie was among its top 50 clients.

He also developed a shopping centre at the Point Village beside 02 and, despite completing construction work several years ago, it has not yet opened because of a long-running dispute with the planned anchor tenant Dunnes Stores.