Smurfit stays tight-lipped on K Club purchase speculation

Brian O'Mahony, Chief Business Correspondent

Mr Smurfit developed the hotel and golf course in Straffan, Co Kildare, while he was chief executive of the Jefferson Smurfit Group, The company was bought out by US fund management group, Madison Dearborn, who also took control of the K Club.

A spokesman refused to comment on reports that the tycoon, worth an estimated 400 million, was attempting to buy back control of the club at a cost of 100m. It was reported that he had teamed up with property specialist Gerry Gannon in an attempt to secure the deal.

Earlier reports said Mr Smurfit wanted to regain control of the K Club ahead of next year’s Ryder Cup, which will generate massive international publicity.

At the time of the development, sceptics thought it was too far-fetched. Despite opposition within the Jefferson Smurfit group, Mr Smurfit persisted. His dream was to create a club that would attract wealthy golf players from across the globe.

Its cost at the time was difficult to estimate, but the reported offer price of 100 million was par for the course, one analyst said.

Meanwhile, the company headed by Mr Smurfit for a number of decades until its takeover has had a challenging year.

Losses before tax at Jefferson Smurfit Group amounted to 66.72 million in the first three months of this year, as the packaging and paper group endured “extremely challenging” conditions in the European market. The pretax losses were up from 3.45m in the same period last year.

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