Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Four Belfast bars for sale - prices slashed

Four of Belfast's best-known pubs and live venues are on sale for one-fifth of what they were reportedly sold for four years ago.

The Limelight/Katy Daly's and Spring&Airbrake complex on Ormeau Avenue, which has played host to acts from Interpol to Snow Patrol, has an asking price of £1.95m.

Offers are invited for £650,000 and over for sister pub Auntie Annie's on Dublin Road.

The guide prices for the venues are a marked reversal of fortune since 2007, when they were part of a business and pub portfolio sold for a reported £13m by Eamonn McCann to CDC Leisure.

Now they are on the market through agents Osborne King nine months after CDC Leisure was put into administration by Allied Irish Banks, to which it owed £7.8m.

Alexander House, an office building above the venues, is also on sale for £950,000.

Administrator John Hansen of KPMG said some interest had been shown in the pubs during the administration but that the current marketing was the first official step towards selling them.

"The intention is that we will sell the pubs as a going concern so that all the people I retained at the start [of the administration] will transfer over," Mr Hansen said.

But he said it was unlikely that CDC Leisure would survive the process.

And despite the economic downturn creating a difficult climate for pubs, Mr Hansen said: "I would be hopeful that we will be successful in finding a buyer but it's like all these things - we have to wait and see.

"It's still business as usual and we continue to trade these bars."

An administrator's report in August last year revealed that CDC's directors believed they paid too much for the pubs, "a fact that only came to light following the acquisition".

A spokeswoman for Wonderland, a promotions company run by Eamonn McCann, said he was unlikely to wish to comment on whether he would be interested in owning the pubs again.

Stephen Magorrian, chief executive of pub group Botanic Inns, which has been managing the pubs since the administration, said: "We'd definitely take a look, but whether we'd be interested or not is another thing."

David Neely, a director of CDC Leisure, who remained to help run the venues, was not available for comment.