Doyle sisters make tentative offer

THE three daughters of the late PV Doyle and other interested parties have made a tentative offer for Jurys Doyle Group of €18.90 per share valuing the company at €1.194 million.

The bid will cost the family and its associates over €600m to secure.

Combined the family and associates have 42.5% of the equity.

The offer, ahead of the September 27 extraordinary general meeting to ratify the sale of the Ballsbridge 4.8 acre site to developer Sean Dunne, raises doubts about the deal going ahead.

If Mr Dunne is prepared to sell back his 24%-plus holding in the country's largest hotel chain, the Doyle family and their associates are likely to vote the deal through, according to reliable sources.

Mr Dunne stands to make a €10m killing from his share sale as well as guaranteeing himself the coveted Ballsbridge site for which he outbid 12 other interested parties.

Technically, the Doyle sisters on the board of Jurys Doyle were, as directors, obliged to recommend the offer from Mr Dunne as being in the best interest of shareholders.

They are not obliged however, to vote in favour of the deal when they come to vote as shareholders. If they vote no the move would be a serious blow to Mr Dunne, who has spent more than €200m buying up his stake in the company as well as to his €260m bid for the prestigious Ballsbridge site.

Mr Dunne has been building up a steady stake of more than 24% in the group. His aim is to go to 29.9% the same as the Doyle's but it is understood he was doing this to protect his interest in the Ballsbridge site.

"This is now a poker game," according to one well-placed source.

The Doyle family is making it clear by withholding its commitment on the site that Mr Dunne has to play ball on the proposed €18.90 offer. According to the same source, the site was his target, and if that is guaranteed at the EGM he will sell his shares giving the Doyle family close to full control of the group.

If they get less than 80% it will stay publicly quoted, but they would hope over time to acquire more than 80% of the shares, which would allow them to take the company back under Doyle family control.

In a statement yesterday the Jurys Doyle board said it received "a possible offer proposal from Eileen Monahan, Ann Roche, Bernadette Gallagher, Walter Beatty and Elizabeth Nelson (the "Consortium")."

Shares in the group rose 11cents yesterday to €18.50, well off their recent high of €19 per share. Other potential bidders including the Reubens brothers of London. US private equity group Blackstone is still monitoring the situation and cannot be ruled out as counter bidders.

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