Investors make €500m property deals

IRISH property investors have snapped up landmark buildings in Prague and London in deals totalling more than €500 million.

The Cavan-based Quinn Group, which has interests in hotels, financial services and cement and glass manufacturing, completed the largest-ever property investment deal in the Czech Republic by buying the Prague hotel operated by the Hilton group for approximately €145 million.

The five-star hotel and conference centre, which has almost 800 rooms, was opened in 1991 and was previously owned by Highbridge, a real estate company, and a Deutsche Bank investment fund.

Hilton will continue to operate the hotel under the terms of the deal, which also includes a smaller 226-room hotel in the Czech capital operated by the Ibis chain. Estate agent Jones Lang LaSalle handled the sale.

The Quinn acquisition follows founder and owner Sean Quinn’s move into the stockbroking and corporate finance market late last year, when he bought a stake in Dublin firm NCB for approximately €3 million.

The Quinn Group already owns nine hotels in Ireland and Britain, including Dublin’s Buswells Hotel, as well as nine pubs and a fitness club. The group is also the second-largest cement manufacturer in the country and is behind the Quinn Direct brand that provides home and motor

insurance. In yesterday’s other ground-breaking deal, Dublin-based property group Shelbourne Development said it had reached an agreement to buy the prestigious Lloyds building in central London, which is home to the international insurance market.

The deal was estimated to be worth approximately €350 million. Previous owner Deka, a German investment fund, paid approximately €250 million for the building in 1996 and put the property on the market in late 2003.

The building was designed by well-known British architect Richard Rogers and is one of London’s best-known office blocks. The transaction is expected to be completed next month.

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