Paddy McKillen jnr's Press Up Entertainment has hired City of London-based corporate broker Peel Hunt as it advances plans for a stock market flotation this year.
Press Up is the country's largest and fastest-growing pub and restaurant group. The move follows on from the appointment of Goodbody Stockbrokers earlier this year to assess funding options, including an initial public offering (IPO), which was first reported by The Irish Times in March.
Including Peel Hunt on the ticket is “ expected to attract strong interest from UK investors”, said a Press Up spokeswoman. She added that a potential flotation later this year remains subject to market conditions being favourable.
Press Up, which operates about 30 businesses including the Dean Hotel in Dublin, the Wowburger franchise and the Elephant & Castle restaurant business in Temple Bar, is expanding at pace.
The company launched the Stella Diner in Rathmines last week, next door to the art deco-styled Stella Theatre, which it restored and reopened last year.
The company, which had a turnover of about €52 million last year, plans to reopen the former Residence private members’ club on Dublin’s St Stephens Green as an all-inclusive new restaurant and bar next month, called the Grayson. It is also scheduled to open a new, 40-bedroom hotel, called the Devlin in Ranelagh, Dublin 6, this forthcoming September.
Mr McKillen jnr and his business partner Matt Ryan, who set up the company in the depths of the recession in 2009, are looking at opportunities to enter the UK market in the medium term following a flotation.
Market sources have said that the company’s Wowburger franchise and recently-acquired Elephant & Castle brand would be obvious businesses that could be launched on the other side of the Irish Sea in the next three to five years.
The company, in which Mr McKillen jnr owns a 50 per cent stake and his developer father Paddy McKillen holds 25 per cent of the stock, held so-called early-look meetings with potential investors in Dublin and London in March. The remaining shares are held by Mr Ryan and Liam Cunningham, a long-time associate of Mr McKillen snr.
The executives indicated at the time that they would look to raise as much as €60 million of equity through an IPO, while the existing four shareholders would maintain majority control of the business. Press Up Entetainment is ultimately controlled by Keillan, a company registered in the Isle of Man.
It is understood that the McKillens and Mr Ryan 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.
If Press Up does proceed with a flotation, it would be the first pub-restaurant operating business to float in Dublin since the O’Dwyer brothers’ Capital Bars businesses listed in Dublin during the late 1990s. They later took the business private again, before it was broken up when the market turned.