Rueben brothers out of Jurys race

THE battle for control of Jurys Doyle took a fresh twist yesterday when British property billionaires the Reuben brothers were booted out of the race.

The Irish Stock Exchange’s Takeover Panel said Aldersgate Investments, the brothers’ investment vehicle, could play no further part in making a bid for the hotel operator because of its links to Precinct Investments, owner of the Gresham group that walked away from a potential bid last month. Stock exchange rules dictate parties that fail to make a bid before a Takeover Panel deadline must wait 12 months before making a fresh approach. Aldersgate had been a supporter of the Precinct approach, which originally valued Jurys Doyle at €960 million before upping its indicative price to €1.1 billion.

But the approach collapsed after Precinct ran into trouble securing bank financing for the deal and the Jurys board pulled the plug on its support.

Precinct told the stock exchange when it was withdrawing from the race it was confident it could have put financing in place, but blamed recent patterns in trading Jurys shares for its decision to bow out. The announcement came shortly after it became clear property developer Sean Dunne had unexpectedly begun to build up a significant stake in Jurys.

Yesterday’s twist came just a day after a consortium made up of the Doyle and Beatty families announced separate plans to wrest control of the hotel group. The consortium’s €1.19bn approach is backed by three daughters of legendary hotelier PV Doyle, who already hold a combined 29% stake in the company, and former Jurys chairman Walter Beatty. It has the backing of 42% of shareholders and is represented on the board by five directors. These include two Doyle daughters, Bernadette Gallagher and Eileen Monahan, their brother-in-law Tom Roche, Mr Beatty’s son Walter Junior and Elizabeth Nelson.

The Takeover Panel yesterday said it had considered representations from Aldersgate and Jurys Doyle before making its decision. But it ruled Aldersgate was a co-offeror with Precinct and could not be allowed to be part of a grouping behind a fresh bid.

The decision is a major setback for Aldersgate Investments, which owns more than 100 properties in Britain. The Reuben brothers recently joined forces with Bank of Scotland and West Coast Capital to buy a portfolio of shopping centres for £310m (€455m) and were also part of a group that splashed out £500m (€730m) on a chain of 220 pubs.

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