Kevin La­gan and family back Dublin tourism plan

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY FEARGHAL O’CON­NOR

KEVIN La­gan and his family are set to make a €3m in­vest­ment to breathe new life into a ma­jor new Dublin tourism project that is un­der con­struc­tion but which had been placed in ex­am­in­er­ship.

The Vaults is an in­ter­ac­tive venue fea­tur­ing live ac­tion shows with his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters such as Oliver Cromwell and Molly Malone and which is be­ing built in an old school in Dublin’s Lib­er­ties.

It’s un­der­stood that since cost over­runs emerged in re­cent months, The Vaults has been the sub­ject of ri­val in­vest­ment plans — firstly from Tayto Park owner Ray Coyle, fol­lowed by a plan in­volv­ing an in­vest­ment com­pany con­trolled by the Belfast-based La­gan family, who sold their huge con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als op­er­a­tion La­gan Group for £455m in April.

The La­gans have pro­posed an in­vest­ment into Fron­tier En­ter­tain­ment — which con­trols The Vaults — and this has been backed by the venue’s two found­ing di­rec­tors, TV and film vet­er­ans Paul Blanch­field and Ger­ald Hef­fer­nan.

The La­gan pro­posal has now been rec­om­mended to cred­i­tors by the com­pany’s ex­am­iner and Mr Coyle has said he would no longer pur­sue his in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in The Vaults.

Blanch­field and Hef­fer­nan would have lost con­trol of the busi­ness un­der the Coyle-backed plan, which had been sup­ported by a third di­rec­tor, Barry Kenny. A fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant, Kenny rose to promi­nence 20 years ago as one of the back­ers of the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel in Balls­bridge. He had in­vested to be­come a 45% shareholder in Fron­tier.

In­stead, Blanch­field and Hef­fer­nan put to­gether the al­ter­na­tive in­vest­ment plan, backed by the La­gan family, and this has now won the ap­proval of the ex­am­iner.

The need for out­side in­vest­ment to com­plete the project — which is set to be­come the big­gest em­ployer of full-time ac­tors in Ire­land — had be­come ap­par­ent ear­lier in the sum­mer.

The chal­lenges of con­vert­ing the old Vic­to­rian school­house into a mod­ern tourism venue had led to a con­struc­tion over­run of €1.25m.

Mr Coyle was ap­proached to in­vest in the busi­ness and an out­line deal emerged that would have seen him­self and Kenny take 75% of the busi­ness.

No agree­ment could be reached and a mo­tion to place Fron­tier En­ter­tain­ment into ex­am­in­er­ship was brought.

But Blanch­field and Hef­fer­nan have since brought the La­gan family on­board with their own pro­posal, now ap­proved by the ex­am­iner and to be put to the court to­mor­row for ap­proval.

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