Former GAA stars snap up Belfast bars Ryan's, Molly Brown's, The Parador and Apartment
Two former Derry GAA stars are the latest owners of seven sought-after pubs in Belfast and Co Down including the Apartment and McHugh's.
Henry (46) and 45-year-old Seamus Downey this week emerged as winners in a bidding war when they offered over £4m for the pubs, which were owned by Kurkova Ltd and were part of the Botanic Inns portfolio.
It's thought the men – who are both GAA heroes in their home county – offered £4.3m for the entire portfolio, which also includes the Kitchen Bar at Victoria Square, the Parador on Ormeau Road, Denvir's Hotel in Downpatrick, Molly Brown's in Newtownards and Ryan's Bar on the Lisburn Road.
The Downeys also own the Sugar Nightclub in Derry city centre and Downey's Bar in Magherafelt.
The Botanic Inns group – comprising Botanic Inns Ltd and Kurkova Ltd – went into administration earlier this year under the weight of debts of around £14m.
Pubs in Botanic Inns Ltd were acquired by the Horatio Group, including the Botanic Inn in south Belfast and the King's Head, just a week after administrators KPMG were appointed by Ulster Bank in May.
Horatio Group is headed up by Stephen Magorrian, who is the former managing director of Botanic Inns.
Neither Seamus nor Henry Downey could be reached for comment.
Administrator John Hansen said this morning that Kurkova Ltd remained in administration but "the trade and assets have now been contracted".
And he said "saving a significant number of jobs in the sector...is a huge boost".
But John Martin, of selling agents Osborne King, said: "We had a lot of interest from the north and south of Ireland in these properties, together with the mainland, and we received a substantial number of offers on all the properties.
"Both [administrators] KPMG and Osborne King are pleased with the outcome, which has been delivered within less than three months.
"It shows confidence is returning to the pub trade."
Two of the remaining three bids had been put forward by Tennent's NI, Fortuna Group – and the third was from unknown property investors advised by John Morgan of Panther Purchasing.
The entire portfolio had a guide price of £4.675m but it had been expected that the group would be broken up, with pubs like the Apartment, McHugh's and the Kitchen Bar expected to elicit the most interest.
However, bids for single properties were eliminated and the contenders whittled down to four offers for the lot.