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Belfast hospitality company increased income despite lockdown, founder in legal action over stockbroker scandal


Kilmona Group owner Patrick Kearney

Kilmona Group owner Patrick Kearney

Kilmona Group owner Patrick Kearney

Turnover at hotel and property development company Kilmona Group increased last year despite the collapse of income from the hospitality sector following the pandemic lock downs.

The company, owned by Patrick Kearney, increased its turnover to £18.2m from £18m in the year to the end of June 2021, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

Kilmona Group, the parent company of Lanyon Homes and Loughview Leisure, reported a profit before tax of £4.8m, down from £5.6m over the previous 12 months.

While revenue from its hotels, including Ten Square in Belfast and the Loughshore in Carrickfergus, dropped by £6m to just £1.5m, the company increased income from property sales by £6.4m to £7.8m.

The company also benefited from substantially decreased administrative expenses, while revealing the majority of its employees were on furlough for a substantial period of the reporting period. It had other income of £3.1m, including furlough money, while staff numbers dropped from 372 to 217.

In notes included in the accounts, the company said the key risks to its performance remain the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit to the hospitality and tourism industry, along with competition and retention of employees.

But the accounts also note that the company, in July last year, signed an 18-month deal with the UK Government to house asylum seekers, including at the 68 bedroom Loughshore.

Kilmona also recently acquired the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick, which the company intends to turn into a five star golf resort. Both the housing of asylum seekers and the Hilton acquisition happened after the reporting period.

The accounts also show income from rents decreased from £7.3m to £6.6m. Revenue from its warehousing arm increased by £500,000 to £2m.

Lanyon Homes most recently put two developments on the market, Castlehill Wood near Stormont and Garden Square in Carryduff. Prices at houses in the former development start at £470,000.

Mr Kearney, who began as a developer in the 1970s, is embroiled in an ongoing legal action over his involvement with the scandal-hit J&E Davy stockbroking firm.

His original legal action over claims the Dublin-headquartered firm misled him over the sale of Anglo Irish Bank bonds ultimately led to the firm being fined €4.1m (£3.5m) by the Central Bank.

Sixteen senior executives of Davy were found by the Central Bank in Dublin to have covertly taken control of a tranche of bonds in the then defunct Anglo Irish Bank.

The bonds, with a nominal value of €27m, were held by Mr Kearney, who was loaned €19m by Anglo to buy them in 2009. By late 2014, the bonds were worth a lot less than either number.

In a deal done between Mr Kearney, his financial adviser and a Davy employee, a consortium called the O'Connell Partnership agreed to buy the bonds for €5.8m, or 22.5 cents on the euro.

The O'Connell Partnership was, in fact, made up of senior Davy management. Most of the bonds sold on within three weeks, via a New York trader.

Mr Kearney claimed in a Dublin court last year Davy stockbrokers made a profit of some €25m on the sale of the bonds. ​​​​​​​​​​​​