Russian billionaire sells Morrison Hotel to UK-based private equity firm

Dublin hotel market springs back to life with two big sales in past ten days

The John Rocha-designed property was the first hotel sold by Nama after the crash. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

The John Rocha-designed property was the first hotel sold by Nama after the crash. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

 

Zetland Capital, a London-based private equity firm, has bought the Morrison hotel in Dublin. No price was disclosed but it was reported in March that the deal was expected to be worth more than €65 million.

The 145-bedroom boutique hotel on Dublin’s quays was owned by Russian billionaire investor Elena Baturina, who bought it from Nama in 2012 for €22 million.

This is second major Dublin hotel sale announced in past 10 days. The 157-bed Moxy Dublin City hotel, on Sackville Place just off O’Connell Street, was earlier this month sold by the Spitzer family’s Midwest Holding group for €35 million to the MHL Hotel Collection.

Nama took control of the Morrison after it acquired the loans of its developer, the late Hugh O’Regan. The John Rocha-designed property was the first hotel sold by Nama after the crash.

Ms Baturina is understood to have invested close to €10 million into a revamp of the property.The hotel currently operates as a Doubletree, a luxury four-star brand owned by Hilton.

Announcing the deal, Zetland said plans are being developed “for modernisation and further investment”.

“We have a very active pipeline of leisure and hospitality opportunities across Europe. We understand the importance of the tourism sector to the Irish economy,” Ahmed Hamdani, chief investment officer at Zetland said.

Dave Murray of the selling agents CBRE said: “The Morrison is one of Dublin’s most iconic and well established upper upscale hotels.”

“This transaction demonstrates the confidence from the international investment community in the strong fundamentals of the Dublin city centre hotel market over the long-term,” he said.

Zetland Capital was advised by David Webster, the former general manager of the five-star Powerscourt hotel in Enniskerry, Wicklow.

Recently-filed accounts for Swift Row, the hotel’s management company, show it had sales in 2019 of €13.1 million, while it turned a profit of €2.2 million. Ms Baturina’s investment company, which also owns properties in Austria and Russia, was paid €1.5 million in dividends in 2019.

Ms Baturina, the wife of the late former mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, decided to sell the hotel early last year. The timing was unlucky, however, as it was brought to the market with a guide price of about €80 million right as the pandemic hit, badly affecting the hospitality sector.

The Morrison and the Moxy are the first major transactions in the sector since the pandemic began.