Omens good for East Cork with sale and site interest

The €13 million sale agreed of East Cork’s Castlemartyr Resort to UK buyer Martin Shaw could prove fortuitous: business sources say interest is picking up for a major new biotech employer for a sizeable portion of the Amgen pharma site in Carrigtwohill east of Cork city, which was moth-balled after a major infrastructural investment and land-buying spree almost a decade ago.

If confirmed in coming months, the east Cork site could see a biotech plant built at a cost of several hundred million euro providing hundreds of jobs.

One source says the likely or targeted company is involved in manufacture of what’s called biosimilars, biotechnology drugs which are analogous to generic drugs.

The company is said to be based in the Far East, and has existing biosimilar manufacturing links to Amgen.

Back in 2006, Amgen outlined plans for a €1.3 billion investment, and up to 1,500 biotech jobs, going on a site buying frenzy - before putting its plans on ice a year or two later.

An IDA spokesperson this week said “ there have been site visits to the location in recent times by a range of companies,” but added that beyond that “IDA Ireland does not comment on speculation.”

Meanwhile, as a further boost to the region, and on the other side of Midleton, the Castlemartyr Resort on 220 acres, with five-star hotel and spa resort, Ron Kirby designed golf course and 19 holiday lodges has been sold.

It is being bought by UK hotelier Martin Shaw, owner of the golf resort Old Thorns Manor House, near London in Hampshire, near London.

Developed at a reported cost of €70m, by the Supple family, the resort property near the east Cork coastline went to market in June with Savills, attracting national and overseas interest, including UK, US and Far East viewers.

Sources say Castlemartyr made very close to its €13m guide, with Mr Shaw also buying a further c €1m lot of nine gate lodges.

Hotel guests have included Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen, as well as honeymooners Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

News of the signing of contracts was relayed to staff last week. It is the second significant east Cork hotel sale in recent years, after the Fota Resort sold two years ago for more than €20m, since hosting the Irish Open under the ownership of the Kang family.

  • Meanwhile, new to market this week for receivers KPMG is the profitable four-star Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone. It comes for sale with Dermot Curtin of CBRE Hotels, and while no guide is stated, it is expected to fetch over €6.5 million.

The purpose-built 128-bed hotel opened in 2004, and is described as a well established and successful hotel and is being sold as a going concern.

“The Radisson Blu Athlone offers investors an exceptional opportunity to acquire a landmark and highly profitable Midlands hotel, in a prime trading position right in the town centre, on the banks of the River Shannon,” says Mr Curtin.

The hotel is being offered unencumbered as the current franchise agreement expires at the end of this year, “thus providing potential purchasers with excellent flexibility to rebrand the hotel, if desired,” note CBRE.

It has 128 bedrooms and suites, bar, restaurant and lobby lounge, over 10,000 sq ft of conference and banqueting suites, a leisure centre with pool, ballroom for 650, seven meeting rooms, and an outdoor terrace with direct access to Athlone Marina.

The Athlone hotel has 169 parking spaces, and “has established itself as one of the most successful and profitable hotel operations in Ireland,” according to CBRE.

“With a vibrant and rapidly recovering economy nationwide, growing domestic short break/leisure demand and record numbers of visitors coming to Ireland in 2015, we are confident that there will be strong investor interest, both Irish and international, in this thriving hotel business,” says CBRE.

They add that recent hotel sales outside of Dublin show a strong demand for well located, modern and profitable hotel operations.

Details: CBRE, 01-6185500


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