Danu in talks to exit Mercantile bars group
Investment group Danu Partners is in talks to sell its minority stake in the Mercantile pub group to its Irish-US co-investors, according to sources.
Danu, comprising Mark O’Meara and Setanta Sports founders Leonard Ryan and Mickey O’Rourke, owns about 22 per cent of the pub group, which includes well-known Dublin nightspots such as Cafe en Seine and Whelans.
Danu has held talks about selling its stake to EMI-MR, a company controlled by Irish-born, US-based scaffolding tycoon Michael Breslin and US-based Kerry builder Maurice Regan.
EMI-MR owns 78 per cent of the group, and would become the outright owner if a deal is concluded, although an agreement has not yet reached.
The potential exit of Danu from the Mercantile group, whose seven outlets also include the George and Opium, would be seen as a surprise move within the booming Dublin pubs sector. The Mercantile Group emerged in May from a long-running dispute between former shareholder Frank Gleeson and his fellow investors, which resulted in three separate legal actions.
Those court cases were all struck out in May, after a wide-ranging agreement between both sides which saw Mr Gleeson exit the group with control of two restaurants and a bar in Dublin that were once part of Mercantile.
Danu is expected to focus instead on expanding its US steakhouse chain, Smith & Wollensky. EMI-MR is a co-investor of Danu’s in a S&W outlet in London, while Mr Regan is a minority investor with the Irish firm in S&W in the US. Those ongoing business relationships are unaffected by the talks in Dublin.
Danu is planning to open a new 250-seat S&W restaurant in Wellesley, near Boston, according to US hospitality trade journal reports this week. Eater Boston magazine said a new S&W will open on the site early next year.
Meanwhile, Danu closed its S&W outlet in Las Vegas at the beginning of summer, and is currently looking for a new premises there. The investment group also operates S&W outlets in other US cities such as New York and Chicago.
The Mercantile Group, meanwhile, is continuing with an extensive investment plan at its Dublin nightspots.
Sequana Management, a company linked to the Mercantile Group, applied this month for planning permission to revamp Cafe en Seine.
Cafe en-Seine, Dawson Street: part of the Mercantile pub group.