Jurys Doyle attracts more suitors

THE number of bidders circling the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group increased yesterday with builder Sean Dunne and the Reubens brothers indicating separate bids for the company.

Mr Dunne, who has agreed to buy almost five acres of land from Jurys’ prime site in Dublin city for €260 million, met with senior company executives to discuss a possible takeover.

“We are currently reviewing all of our options in relation to the company, which may include the possibility of an approach to or offer for the company,” Mr Dunne said in a statement.

Mr Dunne has emerged as a major shareholder in the company over the past couple of weeks in a bid to ensure that he did not lose out on the land deal while the company was talking to another bidder, Precinct Investments.

Talks are due to re-start with Jurys early next week.

“It is not possible at this time to predict what the outcome of these meetings will be, and we have not yet determined how we would view any offer that might be made for the company by a third party,” he added.

Mr Dunne’s statement came a few hours after David and Simon Reuben, British property developers, said they are still interested in the company. The brothers had been part of the consortium led by Precinct Investment which dropped an indicative offer for the hotel chain earlier this week.

The Reubens’ company, Aldersgate Investments, said despite the withdrawal of Precinct it was keeping its options open.

“Aldersgate confirms that in the light of this development it is considering its options including the possibility of making its own offer for Jurys Doyle. Such considerations are at an early stage and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made.”

It also emerged that Liam Carroll, who controls Zoe Developments and Dunloe Ewart, upped his stake in Jurys again yesterday. He now owns 7.4% of the company and has yet to make his intentions clear. Merrion Stockbrokers, which is acting on behalf of Mr Carroll, purchased 400,000 shares in Jurys on Thursday at a price of €17.95 per share and 40,000 shares at €17.80. Mr Carroll has now spent more than €70 million to become the fourth largest individual shareholder in the company.

Mr Carroll is not believed to be interested in mounting a takeover of Jurys, but may use his shares as leverage if he mounts a bid for the Berkeley and Montrose Hotels that were put up for sale this week.

The Reubens and Mr Carroll are not the only predators circling Jurys. Derek Quinlan, who heads the Quinlan Private investment vehicle, and hotelier Paddy Kelly are also mulling bids for the company.

Shares in Jurys Doyle closed up 21 cents at €17.96 yesterday. There was heaving trading in the shares as Mr Dunne reduced to his stake in Jurys by 3.4% to 14.9%. This was required by the Irish Takeover Panel as he had breached their rules when building his stake in recent weeks.

The company will release financial results for the six months to June next Tuesday. Jurys is expected to concede that trading at its four and five-star properties has been difficult, but that this damage will be offset by a strong performance from its Jurys Inns division.

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