Has billionaire John Malone bought Portmarnock Links?

Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links. Via portmarnock.com

Our friends at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links say they've heard nothing yet but our sources are telling us that Irish-American billionaire John Malone is set to beat off the opposition and pay €22 million for the 170.5 acre NAMA property.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) were appointed by receiver Simon Coyle of Mazars to sell the four-star hotel and the Bernhard Langer signature links course, putting a price-tag of €20m on the north Co Dublin property in March.

Bought by Capel Developments for €70m in 2005, the sales brochure says that more than €2.2m has been invested in upgrading the 138-bedroom hotel as well as the golf course since 2010. 

JLL's vice-president for hotels and hospitality, Dan O'Connor, was unavailable for comment early today. But our sources tells us Malone has outbid at least one interested party and  it would not be unusual for him to set his sights on such a trophy property in such a choice location. 

The 73-year old has family roots in Cork and is Chairman of Liberty Global, a listed company in the US with cable TV and telecoms investments across the world, including Irish cable TV and broadband provider UPC.

Regarded as one of the shrewdest businessman in the world by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Warren Buffett, Malone was reputedly nicknamed "the Darth Vader of cable" by Senator Al Gore because of his opposition to government regulation in the cable business.

According to reports, he is America's largest private land owner and currently owns 2.2 million acres in his homeland.

Forbes says he's worth €4.2 billion, which explains why he's bought the Hilton Hotel and the Trinity Capital Hotel in Dublin and acquired Humewood Castle, the Gothic-fantasy mansion on 427 acres in Co Wicklow, in 2012.

It cost him €8m or a third of what it would have cost him during the boom years of 2006.

The Irish Times reported last month that he was interested in acquiring the 600 acre Mount Juliet resort in Co Kilkenny.

If he buys Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links — we're told Donald Trump passed because of the lack of land for development — he's getting a bargain.

As JLL's O'Connor said recently: "Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links offers considerable potential to add value along with the option for domestic or international hotel brand affiliation.

"The site also offers development potential for the construction of a new and substantial golf clubhouse facility and driving range. We are expecting strong competition from both domestic and international hotel investors."