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Friday 2 December 2016

Landmark Gresham Hotel set to go under the hammer for €48m

The landmark Gresham Hotel has seen its fortunes revive as the city's hotel sector continues to recover
The landmark Gresham Hotel has seen its fortunes revive as the city's hotel sector continues to recover

TWO iconic Dublin buildings could be handed over to new owners in the near future.

The landmark Gresham Hotel will soon be on the market, as Nama is preparing to sell it off.

Elsewhere, the owners of Brown Thomas are seeking permission to buy Arnotts. 

The Gresham, on O’Connell Street, has hosted many famous faces, including actress Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace of Monaco, during almost two centuries in the capital.

Although it was taken over by Nama in 2011, it has traded profitably in recent years and The Sunday Times reports that the estimated value could be more than €48m.

With more than 300 rooms, including Dublin’s largest penthouse suite, the hotel has long been linked with luxury accommodation in the capital.

Currently, it is owned by Precinct Investments, which bought out the Gresham Hotel group more than a decade ago.

The hotel, which was built in 1817, will make an attractive prospect for potential buyers as the industry continues to grow.

In its latest quarterly report, the Irish Hoteliers Federation (IHF) forecast a strong summer season, with 90pc of Irish hotels reporting increased business. The IHF also cited a jump of about 12pc in overseas visitors.

Meanwhile, just around the corner on Henry Street, Arnotts is also ready to change hands.

The Dublin shopping stalwart is at the centre of a deal sought by the Weston family.

The Westons are the owners of Selfridges and Brown Thomas department stores and already own half of Arnotts, along with property investor Noel Smyth’s firm Fitzwilliam Finance Partners.

Last week, an application was lodged with the Consumer Protection Commission seeking approval to buy the store.

Wittington, a Weston holding company, and Smyth have now filed to seek permission from the body. It must be shown that Westons would not own too much of Dublin’s department store retail sector which could lead to a reduction in competition in the market.

Last year, the watchdog approved the sale of half of the company to the Westons and Smyth’s firm.

Following an investigation, it found that the sale would not lead to any lessening in competition in the market.

However, in the interim, Clery’s department store has closed its doors.

The battle for full ownership of the Arnotts store has been drawn out over 18 months.

The New York fund, Apollo, pipped the Westons-Smyth alliance at the post when the store’s debt was sold off by Ulster Bank.

In May, however, the fund agreed to sell its share.

The agreement signalled good news for the store as, in a statement, Fitzwilliam Finance Partners said it would continue with its plans to develop Arnotts into an “iconic retail destination”.

Company accounts filed in May by the company showed that during its 2014 financial year it made some €2.5m before interest and tax, with a turnover of €120m.

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