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Irish Millionaire Sean Quinn Acquiring
 the Belfry Hotel for £186 million
By James Rossiter, Evening Standard, London
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Feb. 10--The Belfry hotel, host to a record four Ryder Cup golf championships, is to fall into the hands of Irish cement millionaire Sean Quinn for £186 million.

Hotels and leisure operator De Vere will earn a 47 percent premium to the book value of the hotel and intends to return £183 million cash to its shareholders via a special dividend once the deal is completed next month.

It is a coup for the 58-year-old, who is buying the hotel through his family-controlled Quinn Group and comes barely three months after losing a bid battle for the exclusive Wentworth Golf Club.

De Vere will continue to manage the De Vere Belfry under a 25-year contract with Quinn, worth around £2 million in annual management fees based on last year's earnings for the hotel of £14.3 million.

Carl Leaver, chief executive of De Vere, said the hotel was last valued in 2000.

"We are very happy with the price. The Belfry is a trophy asset -- the values of certain assets have gone up enormously. Today's price is equivalent to a multiple of 15.1 times its earnings, adjusting for the management fee."

Quinn began talks with De Vere in December after what is thought to have been an introduction from financiers at Deutsche Bank involved in the Wentworth sale.

De Vere non-executive director Stephen Morgan is in line for £24.7 million from the Belfry sale and special dividend, thanks to his 13.5 percent stake in the hotelier.

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