Oil-rich Oman invests €200m in Jurys Inns


QUINLAN PRIVATE has tapped the sovereign wealth fund of oil-rich Oman for a €200 million investment in Jurys Inns, the budget hotel chain it acquired from the Jurys Doyle group in a €1.165 billion deal last year.

The transaction, agreed several months ago but made public only yesterday after the conclusion of due diligence, sees the Oman Investment Fund take a 50 per cent equity stake in the hotel business. The other 50 per cent is held by wealthy clients of Quinlan Private, the Dublin-based investment company set up by former tax inspector Derek Quinlan.

While the opening of three Jurys Inns since the deal in June 2007 has brought the number of hotels to 23, Quinlan Private says a further 10 hotels are under development and due to open in 2009 and 2010. Jurys Inns aims to have 48 sites in operation by 2012 and it is already known to be planning hotels in Prague and Budapest.

In a statement yesterday, the Omani fund's deputy chief Hassan al-Nabhani said the chain anticipates "being in a position to take advantage of the correction in site values by acquiring additional UK locations".

Mr al-Nabhani also held out the prospect of the fund engaging in further deals with Quinlan Private, whose assets under management exceed €12 billion. "We anticipate Oman Investment Fund partnering in future investment opportunities with Quinlan Private."

The investment fund, controlled by the government of the sultanate of Oman, will have equal representation with Quinlan Private on the Jurys Inns board. Established in 2006, the organisation's stake in the chain is believed to be the first investment of significant scale by any sovereign wealth fund in any Irish company.

The fund's governing body is the financial affairs and energy resources council of Oman, which draws up the state's fiscal policy. The size of the fund, which has investments in the Dubai Mercantile Exchange and China Gas Holdings, is not publicly known. Its remit is to make equity investments in companies and real estate in Oman and globally.

Oman produced 0.9 per cent of global oil supplies last year, according to recent research by BP. Oil and gas account for more than 77 per cent of government revenues in Oman, which has been led since 1970 by Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

At the time of the Jurys Inn transaction, Quinlan Private said it had executed the deal on behalf of a "group of investors".

Asked whether the company had planned to syndicate the entire investment to its private clients, a Quinlan Private spokesman said: "The answer is that in every transaction there can be a combination of high-net-worth and institutional investors."

He added: "Given the scale of the transaction, you'd expect that there would be a certain level of institutional investment. Quinlan Private has been working to build up its partnerships in the Middle East throughout the year."

The Omani investment follows the appointment of businesswoman Barbara Cassani, founder of budget airline Go-Fly, as Jurys Inn chairman. Niall Geoghegan is chief executive.