Killeen sells Fota Island for around €20m


The 550-acre Fota Island golf course in Cork has changed hands for an estimated €20 million. Killeen Group Holdings, which also owns Mount Juliet, announced yesterday that it sold the course to Fleming Group, the construction and hotel business from Bandon, Co Cork. Barry O'Halloran reports.

Neither party revealed the selling price, but local sources said last night that it was in the region of €20 million. That figure is likely to have left Killeen with a considerable margin from the deal, as it bought the course in 1997 for a sum in the low seven figures.

Fota is an 18-hole course located on an island in Cork Harbour. It has staged two Irish Open tournaments - in 2001 and 2002 - since Killeen took it over. The landbank has outline planning permission for a hotel and a second nine-hole course.

A statement said that under the terms of the deal, the Fleming Group will take over the management of the golf course, while Killeen will act as a consultant to the business.

The Killeen Group is an unlimited entity controlled by its chairman, Dr Tim Mahony,through the Killeen Company Ltd and a series of other firms. The Killeen Company Ltd had shareholders' funds of €6.4 million on December 31st last.

Through Killeen, Dr Mahony also holds the distribution rights for the Toyota and Lexus motor franchises. He has been involved with Toyota for three decades.

The Fleming Group is a family business mainly involved in construction and hotels. Its properties include the Inchydoney Hotel in west Cork, where the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party held a policy meeting in September, and the Radisson in Limerick.

According to the most recent figures filed with the Companies Registration Office (CRO), profits at John J Fleming Construction Ltd, one of the group's main entities, more than doubled in the year to the end of October 2003.

The figures show that the company's turnover grew by more than 60 per cent to €122.7 million from €77.6 million the previous year. Operating profit expanded at a similar rate to €14.6 million.

Over €4 million in profit from the sale of property boosted this figure to €18.1 million. After interest payments of €520,000 the company was left with €17.6 million in pre-tax profits, compared with €8 million in 2002.

The company retained its post-tax earnings of €15.6 million to leave shareholders' funds for the year standing at almost €31.5 million, twice the previous year's figure of €15.8 million.

Commenting on the Fota Island purchase yesterday, Fleming Group managing director, Mr John Fleming, said it planned to further enhance and upgrade the facility in the future.

Dr Mahony said Killeen had a "positive" involvement with Fota. "We now believe that it is an appropriate juncture to move on and hand over the continued development of the resort to a locally-based company," he said.

A statement said staff and members were told about the deal this week. Fota opened in 1993. Killeen hired Jeff Howes Golf Design to upgrade the course to European tour standard in 1997.