A €15 million deal led by the founders of the Setanta sports broadcasting group to buy four of Dublin's best-known pubs has hit a snag, after the high-profile publican landlord of one of them, Cafe En Seine, refused to give consent for the buyers to take over the lease.
The delay has led to a court row involving Pearse Farrell, the FGS receiver who sold the former Capital Bar pubs on behalf of AIB, and Chupn, a company connected to Louis Fitzgerald, Ireland's most successful bar owner who operates about 25 pubs in the Dublin area.
The four bars – Cafe En Seine, Howl at the Moon, The George and The Dragon – were bought during the summer by a consortium including Danu Investment Partners and JT Magen, a US company.
Danu is controlled by Michael O'Rourke, Leonard Ryan and Mark O'Meara, who also control the Setanta broadcasting group, while JT Magen is linked to US-based Kerry millionaire Maurice Regan.
Through Chupn, Mr Fitzgerald and his son Eddie Fitzgerald own the freehold for the cavernous Cafe En Seine, which they bought for about €10 million in 2010.
The pub is by far the largest of the four that were for sale, and was at the vanguard of the “superpubs” that emerged during the boom.
Unhappy with terms
It is understood that Chupn has so far refused to give landlord's consent for the deal on the basis that it is unhappy with some of the terms and covenants attached. Mr Farrell and Perfect Pies, the company to which he was receiver, this week filed a High Court action against the Fitzgerald company in an attempt to force through the deal.
The Fitzgerald family previously expressed interest in acquiring the lease for the pub, and are thought to have been underbidders in the recent sale before the receiver sealed a deal with Danu and JT Magen.
All parties were unavailable for comment last night.