Jurys to take survey comfort

THE beleaguered Jurys Doyle Hotel board will take comfort from the Deloitte Hotel Benchmark survey, showing an improvement in bookings for hotel rooms in Dublin.

In April the survey found reservations for rooms in the Dublin region rose 11.3% year on year yielding a 9.3% increase in occupancy to 77.0% and a 1.8% increase in average room yield to €138.65 per room.

Analysts said some encouragement can be drawn from the figures. The impact it will have on any potential price paid for Jurys Doyle Group is a matter for conjecture.

A spokesman for Precinct said the group is still weighing up its options since Jurys Doyle rejected its initial offer of €15.25 per share on Tuesday valuing the group at €960m.

Initially, when rumours of a bid broke the markets suggested anyone wanting to buy the group would have to pay at least €1bn to secure the group which operates 30 hotels across Ireland, Britain and the US.

Analysts believe that even if no further bid evolves the Jurys Doyle board will be under pressure to deliver better value for shareholders. One option they might consider would be to float Jurys Inns independently while developing the Ballsbridge site as a property play, said Peter Jackson of Bloxham Stockbrokers.

Even if Precinct raises its bid the view that the Jurys Doyle board might move to take the group private still has some currency in the market. Between them the daughters of the late PV Doyle and the daughters of Walter Beatty control 32% of the equity. On the board also is Tom Roche, who is married to Anne Doyle. Mr Roche is the major shareholder in NTR.

Bernie Doyle is married to John Gallagher former managing director of Greenstar, the NTR Plc waste-management subsidiary.

Combined they are a potent force within the Jurys line-up and are well capable of putting a counter strategy to shareholders if the pressure on the board hots up in the coming weeks. They are worth a combined €800m.

So far, Precinct is the only open contender bidding to buy the business. Bernard McNamara, Treasury Holdings and others have been named as possible bidders.

But most of them have denied any interest. Treasury has not commented publicly.

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