Rockefeller Group unit to buy Clerys with Paddy McKillen jnr for €63m

McKillen’s Press-Up Entertainment group mothballs €60m stock market flotation plan

Natrium, led by businesswoman Deirdre Foley, bought the department store for €29 million in June 2015 under controversial circumstances. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A unit of the Rockefeller Group has joined up with Paddy McKillen jnr's Press-Up Entertainment to buy and redevelop the former Clerys department store in Dublin in a deal worth about €63 million, The Irish Times has learned.

Separately, Press-Up, the country's largest and fastest-growing pub and restaurant group, has decided to mothball plans for a stock market flotation, according to market sources. The Irish Times had previously reported that the company was considering raising as much as €60 million in an initial public offering (IPO).

New York-based real-estate firm Rockefeller Group's majority-owned Europa Capital is understood to be lead investor in a three-member group that signed contracts this week to acquire the landmark Clerys building on O'Connell Street, from a consortium called Natrium.

Natrium, led by businesswoman Deirdre Foley, bought the department store for €29 million from US group Gordon Brothers in June 2015 under controversial circumstances that resulted in the loss of 460 jobs. Natrium is a joint venture between Ms Foley’s investment firm D2 Private and UK-based fund Cheyne Capital Management.


Press-Up was previously reported to be in exclusive talks to buy Clerys. The third member of the group is a family office for private investors, called Core Capital.

Rockefeller Group was sold by the eponymous American industrial, political and banking family to Japan's Mitsubishi Estate almost two decades ago.

A spokesman for Natrium and spokeswoman for Press-Up declined to comment. Representatives for Europa Capital were not in a position to comment, while efforts to secure comment from Core Capital’s managing director Derek McGrath were unsuccessful.

High-end retail

Natrium secured planning permission in late 2016 to redevelop Clerys on a 1.66-acre site, into a scheme of high-end retail units, a boutique hotel, modern office space and entertainment and leisure facilities. The group hired real estate agents Knight Frank earlier this year to sell the project with a guide price of more than €60 million.

US property fund Thor Equities, furniture retailer Ikea and shared office space group WeWork were also reportedly linked to the bidding process. Natrium has previously sought more than two years ago to lure iPhone maker Apple to open a flagship retail outlet in the development.

It is expected that Press-Up Entertainment, which operates about 30 businesses including the Dean Hotel in Dublin, the Wowburger franchise and the Stella Theatre in Rathmines, will take on the entertainment and hotel assets in the Clerys project.

Press-Up, which is developing further hotels in Dublin, Cork and Galway, had hired Goodbody Stockbrokers and London-based corporate brokerage Peel Hunt earlier this year to advise on a potential IPO.

However, market sources have said that the company, which is 50 per cent owned by Mr McKillen jnr and in which his father, property developer Paddy McKillen snr, has a 25 per cent stake, has decided against a flotation in the near term and will fund growth from its own resources.

London-based Europa Capital, which was set up in 1995 and has more than €11 billion of commercial property assets across 19 European countries, is likely to control the office element of the scheme, according to industry sources. The transaction may close as soon as the end of October.

Natrium had previously said that the redevelopment of Clerys would employ more than 1,000 people during the construction phase and a further 2,500 once operating.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times