THE CARLTON Hotel Group, operators of the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel, have acknowledged to the Limerick Leader that they are aware that “there has been some activity” in recent weeks with regard to the potential sale of the hotel, but have stressed that “nothing has materialised”.
Strong rumours have been circulating this week that the hotel was to be bought on behalf of the University of Limerick by billionaire philanthropist Chuck Feeney - who sold it in 2004 for a figure in the region of €25m.
However, the Leader understands that a deal with a representative thought to be acting on Mr Feeney’s behalf, which would have potentially been the largest commercial deal done in Limerick in some years, dramatically collapsed at the last hurdle.
Michael Kearney, CEO of the Carlton group, said he was aware of strong speculation “about certain transactions, none of which have materialised”.
“While there has been some activity, nothing has materialised,” he said. “We continue to be operators. I am sure we will be informed early if there are any developments and as of today we have not been informed,” he added.
A spokesperson for the University of Limerick declined to comment on the reports, but sources in the university have acknowledged that a deal “had been a runner until quite recently” and could yet be resurrected.
The hotel, which was opened by President Mary Robinson in 1991, is owned by CPH Investments Limited and is a subsidiary of parent company Fordmount Property Group Limited which has been in receivership for some time.
According to documents filed with the Companies Registration Office last September, Bank of Scotland Ireland holds as security a “first specific charge over the freehold land and premises of the company consisting of a 107 bedroom hotel on a circa 1 acre site with conference, restaurant, bar, leisure and car parking facilities, known as the Castletroy Park Hotel”.
The bank are believed to be exploring the sale of the hotel for a figure in the low millions.
The Carlton Hotel Group took control of the hotel in 2009 after a previous company in charge of the hotel - Castletroy Park Management Ltd - went into liquidation with debts of €2.1m.
Prior to Carlton’s take over, the four-star, 107-room hotel closed its doors early in 2009 after 18 years in business, citing “insurmountable trading difficulties”.
Financial statements for CPH Investments filed for the year ended December 2010 - and signed off on by directors Michael Sherry and Adrian Frawley in September of last year - have been prepared on a going concern basis, notwithstanding “the company’s net loss for the year of €142,663 and net liability position at the year end of €6,726, 790 and continued deterioration in the economic climate”.
The directors declared their belief, as of September last year when the documents were filed, that “current and future operating cash flows together with the ongoing support of its relevant funding institutions mean the company can continue to operate in the foreseeable future”.