The Belfry – the world-renowned business, golf and leisure resort – is expected to attract “significant international interest” after being officially put on the market.
Commercial property agent Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels has been appointed to market the 550-acre resort in Warwickshire, regarded as the spiritual home of the Ryder Cup, which is owned by Irish-based businessman Sean Quinn Junior.
For several weeks The Belfry’s ‘preferred bidder’ – an American golf operator – has been closely assessing the business but in the end has failed to come up with an acceptable offer.
The resort includes a 324-bedroom hotel, three golf courses that have hosted four Ryder Cups and numerous European Tour events, extensive corporate conference and meeting facilities, a spa and newly-refurbished leisure club, on-site nightclub and the headquarters of the PGA.
As yet there is no mention of a ‘guide price’ but, given the level of investment that will be required to restore the Hotel to 5 star standards, the price eventually paid is unlikely to come close to the £186 million that Sean Quinn, once one of Ireland’s richest men, paid to the De Vere Group six years ago.
Mr Quinn himself is reported as having planned an investment of around £150m in the property but this was put on hold after the property crash.
According to the ‘Irish Times’ The Belfry is valued at just £88 million in the latest accounts filed for Quinn Property Investments and the debt on the property is thought to stand at about £105 million. This debt is owed to Bank of Ireland, Barclays and Certus, which is managing the wind-down of the loan book of Bank of Scotland (Ireland).
Nigel Gray, Managing Director for The Belfry, commenting on the future of the resort, said: “We can confirm that new owners are being sought for The Belfry and we are extremely confident this will prove to be successful.
“The Belfry is a highly-profitable business which has just enjoyed a successful 2011, with figures up on 2010 levels. The team here is highly experienced and it has very much been business as usual in the last few months with a very encouraging pipeline of business for the coming months. That will continue during this process.
“The Belfry is very much an international brand both for the hotel and conference side of the business as well as the golf operation which is world renowned. Just last year it was namedEngland’s Leading Golf Resort at the World Travel Awards.
“We are very confident that a sale will be realised and allow The Belfry to continue to develop and grow.”
George Nicholas, of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, said: “The Belfry is an iconic golf destination; combining an internationally recognised brand with a successfully trading business, and quality sales of this nature rarely come to the market. We expect significant international interest to be attracted among buyers from across the globe as investors bid to secure this rare opportunity.
“Furthermore, we are already seeing interest being expressed from across the globe, particularly fromAsiawhere investors are seeking to capitalise on the relatively low British Pound.”
The Belfry is, of course, not only home to the PGA of UK andIrelandbut also the PGAs of Europe. They will not be affected by the sale of the Resort. They occupy their premises under a long-term lease which was negotiated by Colin Snape, the PGA Chief Executive from 1973 to 1986, whose deserves considerable credit for his foresight.
It is reported that all bids for the property must be received by the end of February.
The Belfry www.thebelfry.co.uk
Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels www.joneslanglasallehotels.com