World-famous hotel up for sale

WORLD-famous hotel and golf resort The Belfry has been put up for sale after its owners were plunged into a financial crisis.


The internationally-renowned venue, which has played host to the Ryder Cup on four occasions, is going on the market despite a whopping GBP105 million of debt.


An unnamed Malaysian investor is said to have expressed an interest in buying it, and insiders expect a number of offers to come in when the sale is officially confirmed.


Bank lenders the Bank of Ireland, Barclays and Certus are said to be seeking a buyer for the the golf and leisure complex, in Wishaw, Warwickshire.


The Belfry has made no official comment, but the sale comes just months after a financial crisis gripped the complex’s Irish owners the Quinn Group, who bought the business in February 2005.


Financial catastrophe hit the group earlier this year, forcing the Belfry into the hands of Anglo-Irish Bank and US insurance firm Liberty Mutual.


Sean Quinn, who led the Quinn Group, has seen his multi-billion euro empire collapse over the last two years after massive stock market gambles on the share price of the Anglo-Irish Bank went sour.


Mr Quinn, dubbed the Mighty Quinn at the height of his success when he was worth a reputed GBP3.7 billion, lost control of his business in April and voluntarily filed for bankruptcy in Belfast last month.


The Quinn Group’s cash crisis has left the future of the Belfry in doubt and now commercial property specialists Jones Lang LaSalle have reportedly been appointed to administrate the sale.


The complex’s lenders brought in business advisers Ernst and Young to examine potential options for the site, including a debt restructuring and sale.


One report said an unnamed Malaysian investor had already made contact to submit a GBP90 million offer for the Belfry.


The Quinn Group bought the complex for GBP186 million but the recession has seen its value dramatically decline.


General manager Nigel Gray could not be contacted for comment, but an insider said: “The Belfry is up for sale. It has been a cash generator for years although it does need a major refurbishment.


“The Quinn Group has invested in the hotel, and has spent a fair amount of money on the golf course.


“There is likely to be quite a lot of interest, especially bearing in mind that the Belfry is the PGA HQ.“