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The Dublin hotel that sold at a profit during covid

Zetland Capital acquired the Morrison Hotel in Dublin's Temple Bar for a rumored €65 million from Russian businesswoman Elena Baturina.

Along the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin sits the Morrison Hotel. It occupies land near to the city center, which is home to Temple Bar and the iconic Guinness Storehouse.

The boutique, 145-room hotel was acquired in May by London-based private equity firm Zetland Capital, for a price of more than €65 million from the Russian businesswoman Elena Baturina, according to The Irish Times newspaper. She originally put the property up for sale in March 2020 for a guide price of €80 million, just as the pandemic took hold of the world, but later reduced it to €68 million in February of this year.

While the sale price was 18.75 percent lower than the asking price, the offload still gave something to Baturina to celebrate, as she originally acquired the hotel from the National Asset Management Agency in 2012 for €22 million, The Irish Times reported.

This latest sale is not all the celebrating the walls of the hotel have seen. Indeed, the same year the hotel was built in 1999 by the late Irish developer Hugh O’Regan, it was chosen to host the MTV Europe Music Awards after-show party.

Crediting the ‘orchestra’

But the asset would also be at the center of controversy, too, relating to who would be credited with its design. Originally built by fashion designer John Rocha, his involvement was subsequently disputed by Douglas Wallace, another architect working on the building. Wallace accused Rocha of “exaggerating his involvement in the project,” according to The Irish Times. The newspaper reported in August 2000 that Wallace said: “It was like an orchestra. [Rocha] was a fundamental element, but he did not design it.”

In any event, today’s visitors would see the design work of another architect, Nikki O’Donnell of Dublin practice NODA, who was part of a €7 billion revamp by Baturina after she acquired the asset in 2012.

This remedial work and a broadening enthusiasm for tourism as pandemic fears subside have the Morrison’s new owners excited. Ahmed Hamdani, managing partner and chief investment officer at Zetland Capital commented: “We understand the importance of the tourism sector to the Irish economy… our investment and collaboration come at an important time and will ensure the hotel can offer an even stronger proposition moving forward.”

Timeline

1999 The Morrison Hotel opens after being developed by the late Hugh O’Regan

2012 It is bought by Russian businesswoman Elena Baturina from the NAMA for a reported €22 million

2013 The hotel undergoes a €7 million refurbishment led by architect NODA

2020 Baturina puts the Morrison Hotel up for sale for a guide price of €80 million

2021 Zetland Capital purchases the Morrison Hotel for a rumored €65 million