The company that owns the Jurys Inn hotel chain is to make a €5.5m investment in its premises on Dublin's Custom House Quay - which will see it rebrand as a Hilton Garden Inn. Dublin-based Amaris Hospitality, which is owned by Lone Star, runs around 90 hotels in Britain and Ireland.
According to John Brennan, CEO of Amaris Hospitality, the move is part of a wider investment that will see the company reposition many of its hotels in the coming year. "This is part of the broader Amaris strategy," he said. "When Amaris was established earlier this year it brought together three of Lone Star's hotel investments under one operating and investment portfolio - and the real objective here is to create one of the best performing hotel operating and investment platforms in the UK and Ireland," he explained.
Mr Brennan says that as part of that Amaris has committed itself to a €140m capital investment programme. This aims to ensure that the right brand is used for the right location, which is why some of its properties are now in the process of being rebranded. As part of the Custom House Quay investment, Amaris also hopes to extend the hotel somewhat - and is currently going through the planning process to make that happen.
Mr Brennan also says that, given the demand for hotel beds in Dublin at the moment, the addition of new hotels to its portfolio is a possibility in the future - though there are no specific investment plans at present. "As a group we are trying to grow and develop the business and we are intending to add hotels," he said. "Specifically where is a matter of opportunity and certainly Dublin is a market that could be a place that we do invest, but we've no specific plans relating to acquisitions or new developments in the Dublin market," he added.
While it is only a relatively new vehicle in itself, Amaris has already been subject to speculation about its ultimate fate - given the fact that it is owned by a company designed to eventually exit a business when a return on investment is possible. However Mr Brennan says that a potential sale or initial public offering involving the company is not his focus at the moment - instead it is building the business over the next year in order to make it a stronger player in the market by 2017. "Our real goal at the moment is to create the company and to convert 22 hotels into different brands," he said. "In 2017 hopefully the performance of these hotels will be transformed and that ultimately is our focus; to try to ensure we get these hotels repositioned and to get the improved performance of these properties in line with the kind of performance we've seen from the Jurys Inn brand over the years."
MORNING BRIEFS - The US Treasury has announced new measures to block so-called 'inversion' mergers designed to let companies avoid paying taxes in the country. Inversions generally sees a company buying up a smaller foreign firm and then relocating to the home base of its acquisition, mainly to lower their corporate tax bills. The technique has led to a number of US firms acquiring smaller players in Ireland in recent years. The US had previously brought in rules to reduce the attractiveness of such takeovers. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the aim of the new rules is to "further reduce the benefits of an inversion and make these transactions even more difficult to achieve." The new rules could place a possible obstacle to Pfizer's potential $150 billion takeover of Ireland's Allergan.
*** Dutch bank ABN Amro is to return to the stock market today in what is being billed as one of the biggest initial public offerings by a European lender since the financial crisis. The bank was nationalised in 2008 and received €22 billion from the government there, though the total cost of the bailout is believed to be in the region of €32 billion. Today it is set to offer 20% of its capital to the markets at a price of €17.75 - which should raise around €3.3 billion.
*** In other IPO news, shares in US payments company Square closed 45% higher after their New York debut yesterday.
The firm is owned by Jack Dorsey, who was recently reinstated as the head of Twitter, and it raised eyebrows when it priced its shares at $9 each - well below the expected range of $11-13. Last night the company's stock closed just above the $13 mark.