Jurys to sell flagship hotel sites

SINCE day one the markets have said the shareholding of the daughters of PV Doyle and their close associates would ultimately determine the future of the Jurys Doyle Group.

Between them, the three Doyle sisters: Bernie Gallagher; ER Monahan and Anne Roche hold 22% of the equity, while former director Walter Beatty has a near 8% stake.

Two of the sisters are directors of the group, while Anne Roche's interests are represented by Tom Roche of NTR Plc, the toll road company, on the Jurys Doyle board.

In total, the board and associates account for 35% of the equity and will be highly influential in any battle for control of the business.

Key shareholders: Bernie Gallagher 8.3%, ER Monahan, 6.8%, Anne Roche 6.8%, Walter Beatty 7.75%. Others favourable to the board have 5% and Bank of Ireland Asset Management has 12%.

Precinct said yesterday it remains interested in buying the business despite two stern not for sale slips from the Jurys Doyle board. Stuart Draper of stockbrokers Dolmen Butler Briscoe said if Precinct or any other bidder wants to wrest control of the business from the board it will have to come up with "compelling bid." By that he meant an offer of at least €18 a share with very definite plans for the development of the group across Britain and the US as well as Ireland.

Precinct's last bid was €16.25m, a full euro ahead of its initial offer and valued the 33 hotel chain at over €1 billion.

Some analysts described the initial bid as reasonable, but perceptions over the value of the group have hardened since the market has had time to assess the untapped potential of the group.

Suggestions of divisions between the management and the board over the future of the group look to have been wide of the mark.

Differences of opinion between the Doyle sisters have also been hinted at, but a source very close to the company said yesterday's uncompromising statement was unambiguous.

Bernie Gallagher, who is the eldest of the three Doyle sisters, was managing director of the Doyle Group before the merger with Jurys.

She is still firmly behind keeping the business under the control of the Doyle family and is happy to see the present structure maintained.

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