Irish Billionaire O'Brien Said to Halt Luxury Golf Resort Sale

  • O'Brien shelves sale of Quinta do Lago in Portugal for now
  • O'Brien had sought about 220 million euros for the resort

Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien halted the sale of Quinta do Lago, an exclusive resort in Portugal, for now after bids fell short of the asking price, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

O’Brien, 57, sought about 220 million euros ($232 million) for the resort, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. A spokesman for O’Brien in Dublin declined to comment.

Denis O’Brien

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

One of the richest men in Ireland, O’Brien has had mixed fortunes of late in selling assets. In Dublin on Wednesday, Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. laid out plans to buy O’Brien’s Topaz Energy Group Ltd., which operates convenience stores and fuel retail businesses across Ireland, for an undisclosed price. In October, he pulled a share sale by Digicel Group Ltd., halting what would have been the second-biggest initial public offering in the U.S. this year.

Dubliner O’Brien is worth $4.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He bought Quinta do Lago in the late 1990s for an undisclosed price, becoming the third owner of the resort that’s more than four times the size of Monaco.

Set across 2,000 acres of land on the southern tip of Portugal, Quinta do Lago’s three golf courses, five-star hotels and multi-million-dollar villas facing the ocean have been a magnet for celebrities ranging from the late Formula One driver Ayrton Senna to Princess Caroline of Monaco.

A buyer would have controlled 25 acres of residential plots, 31 acres of commercial development opportunities and over 140 acres of residential development potential, according to a sales brochure.

"Quinta do Lago is without a doubt one of Europe’s most exclusive holiday
destinations," said Alison Buechner Hojbjerg, a director at Quinta Properties, a real estate agency selling luxury villas at the resort. “But the asking price was clearly a high price.”

Investment in Portuguese real estate totaled 972 million euros in the first half of the year, according to CBRE Group Inc. That exceeded the 847 million euros invested in the whole of last year.

Lone Star Funds bought the Vilamoura resort, also in the Algarve region, from struggling Spanish savings bank Catalunya Banc and Algarvetur in March for an undisclosed amount.

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