herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Couple buy top Dublin theatre venue for €28m

DUBLIN'S Bord Gais Energy Theatre has been sold for €28m.

John and Bernie Gallagher outbid a number of potential buyers, including the company that runs the theatre, Live Nation, in one of the biggest sales in the history of Ireland's entertainment industry.

Bernie Gallagher is a daughter of legendary hotelier PV Doyle.

She and her husband were part owners of the Jurys Inn hotel chain, which was sold to Quinlan Private for €1.16bn in 2005, just before the crash.

The couple own Crownway Entertainments, through their company Crownway Investments, which was selected as the preferred bidder for the Dublin theatre.

They also beat off a number of high-profile bidders, including Denis Desmond's MCD, the Ambassador Theatre Group in the UK, Dublin-based New Beginnings, and many other private investors.

The €28m selling price for the state-of-the-art building is just a fraction of the €80m spent on constructing and developing the theatre, which opened as the Grand Canal Theatre in 2010.

Earlier this year, the National Assets Management Agency, NAMA, appointed Grant Thornton as receivers to the theatre-owning company controlled by embattled developer Harry Crosbie.

Mr Crosbie had gone public in his criticisms of NAMA. He claimed recently that selling the theatre would be "an uncivilised and barbarous act".

He claimed his beloved theatre project was "an attempt to create something beautiful... it should not be treated like a warehouse outside Mullingar.

"This building has already become part of the cultural and social fabric of the city and should be treated with more respect."

lynchpin

The 2,111-seat theatre has a stunning exterior designed by New York architect Daniel Libeskind and RHWL Architects of London. The building is the lynchpin of the Grand Canal Dock area. Chartered Land were the developers.

The theatre was renamed in 2012 as part of a naming rights agreement with Bord Gáis. The deal included an agreement that it will retain the Bord Gais name until at least 2018.

The Gallaghers also made millions from the sale of the Burlington Hotel to Bernard McNamara and the Berkeley Court to Sean Dunne.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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