Christie + Co opens doors to distressed hotels in Dublin
With much of the Irish hotel industry in tatters, it is hardly surprising that the UK hotel and leisure experts Christie + Co has opted to chase some of the action by opening a Dublin office.
The new service has nothing to do with the better known Christie’s estate agency, which specialises in the sale of big houses and country estates.
To launch its new hotel business, Christie + Co has transferred one of its Dublin-born executives, Maureen Doyle, who has spent the past five years advising developers, investors and funders on hotel deals throughout the UK and Europe. Before that she was on secondment to the Lloyds Banking Group, helping it to embark on a substantial hotel exposure in Ireland through Bank of Scotland (Ireland).
Doyle’s new role could not be more different now that she has moved to Dublin. With the banks still Christie + Co’s key customers, her primary function has shifted from lending to managing distressed loans. “The Irish hotel sector is characterised by overinvested, over-leveraged, over-spec’d hotels and many oversupplied markets,” she says. “For a vast number of non-commercial reasons, there was a 128 per cent increase in the number of rooms from 1996 to 2010, all of which allowed their investors to avail of attractive tax savings.”
Six years after the capital allowance-driven hotels opened for business and two years after the Bank of Scotland (Ireland) withdrew from the Irish market, she says, we are “starting to see a trickle of assets being released for sale which will hopefully reinvigorate the market and bring it back to a ‘new normal’.”