SMURFIT EXPECTED TO AGREE SALE OF K CLUB TO HOTELIER FETHERSTON FOR €70M - Michael Smurfit is expected to agree the sale of his K Club golf resort in Co Kildare within the coming weeks as negotiations with hotelier and nursing home operator Michael Fetherston, the preferred bidder, near conclusion. 

Sources suggest the five-star hotel and golf resort will change hands for about €70 million, which is below the original €80 million asking price, says the Irish Times. "It is an ongoing process with a preferred bidder, but no definitive agreement yet," a spokesman for Mr Smurfit said. "I don't think it's too far away, but it's not sale agreed," he said. The club, which is situated on a 222-hectare (550-acre) estate in Straffan, contains two 18-hole championship golf courses and 134-bedroom hotel complex. The courses hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup as well as Irish and European opens. Mr Smurfit’s spokesman said his client was selling the business because he believes "its long-term interests would be better served under new ownership". Under the deal, Mr Smurfit will not retain ownership of his course-side villa at the club. Mr Fetherston emerged as the lead bidder for the resort several weeks ago. His main business interest is the TLC nursing homes group, which owns and operates five facilities in the greater Dublin area, including Santry, Citywest and Maynooth.

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BEWLEY'S CAFE 'NOT VIABLE' IF ITS TOP FLOORS KEPT VACANT - Johnny Ronan's property group has warned that the viability of the Bewley's Café building on Grafton Street is under threat from restrictive planning rules. 

Consultants for Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) say the Dublin City Development Plan requirement that the entire building should remain as a café could be "ultimately detrimental to the future of the building". RGRE, which owns the landmark café, failed to persuade Dublin City Council to amend its new policy on Grafton Street planning controls published in September. The group said it recognised the architectural and historic significance of Bewley's Café but argued that the council should allow the owners "a degree of flexibility" about its use, particularly its vacant upper floors, writes the Irish Independent. "The upper floors are not required for café use and would not be viable for such a use," it said, noting that other Grafton Street businesses featured tourist accommodation on upper floors. "This would be a much more appropriate approach to apply to the Bewley's Café building," it said. Bewley's reopened in early 2017 after two years of extensive refurbishment.

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DOHENY & NESBITT PUB PROFITS LOSE THEIR FROTH - Profits at landmark Dublin pub Doheny and Nesbitt last year decreased by 18.5% to €237,782. 

Newly-filed accounts for the pub’s operating company Swigmore Inns Ltd show that investment costs pulled the profits down, during the 12 months to the end of last January, but the pub's revenues increased. The pub's accumulated profits last year increased from €3.56m to €3.8m. Doheny & Nesbitt, on Dublin’s Baggot Street, was the first pub in Ireland to exchange hands for over £1m, when the Mangan brothers, Tom and Paul, purchased the premises in 1987, writes the Irish Examiner. The pub's owners said they have been very happy with the performance of the pub - which employs 50 people - this year. An increased food, wine and whiskey offering have boosted customer numbers, they said. The pub has expanded in recent years with the opening of a cellar bar to deal with the crowds attending the pub. Doheny & Nesbitt has long been a favourite haunt of politicians from nearby Leinster House and of lawyers, architects and actors, along with visitors from around the globe.

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EY PARTNERS TAKE PAY CUT DESPITE RECORD REVENUES - Partners at one of the Big Four accountancy firms are in line for a pay cut, despite its British business making record revenues as the profession braces itself for regulatory reform. 

The 702 partners at EY received an average of £679,000 in the year to the end of June, down 2% on the previous year's pay of £693,000, writes The Times. The payout is lower than the £882,000 received by partners at Deloitte last year and the £765,000 that PWC partners took home. KPMG, the fourth firm, has yet to publish its figures. Steve Varley, 51, UK chairman of EY, said that the pay cut had come as a result of the firm increasing the number of its partners from 681 to 702. It also increased its investment in audit quality to £25m a year and invested more than £32m in improving technology during the financial year. EY, which started as a small accountancy firm in England in 1849, employs about 14,500 people in the Britain and about 284,000 people worldwide. The accountancy profession is preparing for regulatory reform because of increased political scrutiny after the collapse of Carillion, the outsourcer; BHS, the retail group; and Thomas Cook, the travel business.