An American billionaire John Malone has agreed terms for the purchase of the highly profitable Trinity Capital Hotel at Pearse Street in Dublin.
Mr Malone, who bought Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow last December, was the top bidder at almost €35 million for the four-star hotel which had a trading surplus of over €2.5 million last year. Five other overseas parties took part in a second round of bidding which was conducted by Paul Collins of selling agents CBRE.
Mr Malone (72), who is the largest private landowner in the US with 2.2 million acres, plans to refurbish the 38,000 sq ft Humewood Castle which he bought along with 427 acres for €7.225 million. It had previously been acquired for €25 million by John Lally's Lalco Holdings.
The Trinity Plaza was owned by brothers Liam and Des O'Dwyer whose hotel and pub group, Toji Holdings, had net debts of around €116 million transferred to Nama. A larger grouping of pubs owned by the brothers was broken up in 2009 when a bank receiver was appointed to three of them – Cafe en Seine, The George and Howl at the Moon.
The 195-bedroom Trinity Capital Hotel opposite Trinity College has experienced a marked recovery in business-occupancy rates, averaging between 75 and 85 per cent, and increased revenues per room over the past three years.
The high level of bidding for the hotel was due in part to the fact that the new owner will have the freedom to relaunch the business as part of a top international brand.
Mr Malone, whose family emigrated to the US from Cork, is chairman of Liberty Global, a listed company in the US with cable TV and telecoms investments across the world.
In Ireland, the company owns cable and TV broadband provider UPC. Mr Malone is reputed to be worth $5.6 billion (€4.2 billion).
Trinity Plaza will be the fourth hotel in Dublin city to be sold to overseas interests in the past 17 months.
The 138-bedroom Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay was sold to Russia's richest woman, Elena Baturina, for €22 million; the 501- bedroom Burlington was acquired by US private equity giant Blackstone for €67 million, while the 185-bedroom Marker Hotel and an apartment block went to Swiss-owned Midwest Holdings and Brehon Capital for €30 million.