Bids of close to €90 million submitted for RTÉ site in Donnybrook

Cairn Homes regarded as front runner with successful bid set to be chosen this week

RTÉ is set to net a higher-than-expected windfall from off-loading the 8.64 acres of land it recently put up for sale.

The Irish Times has learned that bids of close to €90 million have been lodged for the prime site on RTÉ’s Montrose complex, which is situated close to Donnybrook village.

The land had been offered for sale by Savills with a guide price of €75 million. A decision on the successful bidder is expected this week, possibly following a board meeting of RTÉ on Thursday.

Sources have suggested that bids of €85 million-plus have been lodged. Cairn Homes, the Irish property group listed on the London stock market, is considered to be the front runner. The company is understood to have a fully-funded bid that does not require external finance.


Cairn last month raised €51.9 million in gross proceeds from a share placing, leaving it well positioned to acquire additional land for development purposes.

However, Cork property developer Michael O'Flynn, with backing from New York-based Avenue Capital Group, and Bartra Capital, which was set up by former Treasury Holdings co-founder Richard Barrett, are also thought to have lodged strong bids.

High-end residential scheme

Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land, which is currently developing a high-end residential scheme on the site of the former Berkeley Court hotel in Ballsbridge, and a low-profile local developer called Bridgedale, which is led by Stephen Garvey and has residential projects in Dublin, Meath and Wicklow, are also thought to have submitted offers.

Speaking after its annual general meeting recently, Michael Stanley, chief executive of Cairn Homes, confirmed that the RTÉ land was "one of a number of potential opportunities for the company".

“I’m particularly interested in well-located apartment sites because I think we’re one of the few companies that can build apartments today in Ireland and, because of the continued employment in the city, I think they’re badly needed,” he said.

The latest round of offers were lodged on June 8th. The expectation is that a winning bid will be announced in the coming day although RTÉ and Savills could yet decide to hold a run-off between the two highest bidders.

Savills declined to comment on the bidding process.

The successful bidder is expected to seek permission to build up to 550 apartments on the Montrose property, along with underground car parking.

However, the site does not have planning permission and any development could be subject to objections from the broadcaster’s well-heeled neighbours.

RTÉ plans to invest the proceeds of the sale to help fund an upgrade of the remainder of its Donnybrook complex.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times