Members of the McKillen family and top management at Press Up Entertainment aim to maintain a controlling stake of the hospitality group as they consider raising as much as €60 million of fresh equity in an initial public offering (IPO), according to sources.
The Irish Times first reported earlier this month that Press Up, set up by Paddy McKillen jnr and Matt Ryan in 2009, was considering a stock market flotation as it hired Goodbody Stockbrokers to help assess various funding options for the group.
Mr McKillen jnr is the main shareholder with a 50 per cent stake, while his father, property developer Paddy McKillen snr, holds 25 per cent. The remainder of the business is held by Mr Ryan and Liam Cunningham, a long-time associate of Mr McKillen snr.*
Management and advisers to the rapidly expanding company, which operates about 30 businesses including the Dean Hotel in Dublin, Wowburger franchise and Stella theatre in Rathmines, have begun gauging market appetite in recent weeks for a flotation of the business.
The so-called “early look” meetings with potential investors in Dublin and London are occurring against the background of a robust Irish economy but volatile equity markets. Ireland’s Iseq stocks index has fallen by almost 7 per cent so far in 2018, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 index has declined by 5.5 per cent.
A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that the existing shareholders plan to retain a majority stake in the event of them pressing the button on an IPO, even after potentially selling down some of their existing shares as part of a deal.
It is understood that the McKillens plan to roll most of the underlying property behind Press Up venues and hotels into the public company, should they proceed with an IPO. Sources said the company had not ruled out the private sale of a stake to an investor.
An outright sale of the business is not an option being considered, according to the spokeswoman.
Press Up is ultimately controlled by Keillan, a company registered in the Isle of Man, which also appears to be the shareholder for a property development company called Oakmount, which is the landlord for several buildings where Press Up operates hospitality outlets.
If Press Up does proceed with a flotation, it would be the first pub/restaurant operating business to float in Dublin since the Capital Bars businesses listed in Dublin in the late 1990s. That company was subsequently taken private again in 2002, before it was broken up when the market turned.
Industry sources said Mr McKillen jnr and Mr Ryan previously sought expressions of interest for Press Up about two years ago, for a then-valuation of in excess of €30 million.
Press Up, which last year had a turnover of about €52 million, has said it hopes to open at least nine new hospitality venues over the coming year, including the Devlin hotel in Ranelagh, which will open in the summer.
The group is also reported to be developing a 140-bedroom hotel in Cork and another hotel project in Galway. It is also planning a revamp of former private members club Residence on St Stephen’s Green, which it purchased recently.
In addition, Press Up will soon open a cocktail bar in a three-storey building on Dublin’s Aungier Street, which company documents suggest will be called The Dutch Billy.
The group’s other recent purchases include the well-known Elephant & Castle restaurant business in Temple Bar.
The company is also advancing plans for a corporate hotel at the former Howl at the Moon superpub, once part of the Capital Bars group, in Dublin 2. An original blueprint was quashed in November by An Bord Pleanála.
* The copy was amended on March 29th, 2018