• Quinlan sells out at world record

Quinlan Private, the syndicate of investors that has bought into a swathe of upscale hotel property across Europe, has agreed to sell its Four Seasons in Milan for what it claims is a world record value per room.

The 118-room property is being sold for in excess of Eu200m to Italy's Statuto Group in a deal that demonstrates Quinlan's impeccable timing of the cycle.

When Quinlan swooped on the Milan property back in late 2002, the then mooted price of Eu1.5m per room looked heady. But the exit after less than three years has delivered an impressive return to the investors.

The buyer is the Italian real estate group that bought the Danieli in Venice for Eu177m in May last year. Giuseppe Statuto, owner of the Statuto Group, said that the latest deal completes Statuto's strategy in luxury hotel development.

Quinlan still owns Four Seasons in Dublin, Prague and Budapest plus the three remaining properties in what was the Savoy Group, now known as Maybourne following the disposal of the eponymous property to Kingdom Hotels International and HBoS.

The Savoy sale, for £200m, also netted investors a significant return. According to documents filed in Dublin, the vehicle used to buy the Savoy Group, Coroin, made a profit of Eu58m from flipping the Savoy just eight months after buying the whole Savoy group from Blackstone for £750m.

The success is only increasing ambition. Irish investors spent Eu3bn buying property abroad in 2005, figures from the Irish Government's statistics office reveal. Two-thirds of this investment was in commercial property and much of it in the UK.

A study by CB Richard Ellis puts the amount spent by the Irish at Eu5bn in the UK and a further Eu2bn in other countries, making the Irish the most active overseas buyers. The CBRE study predicted that Eu9bn will be spent overseas this year, dubbing the Irish acquirers the \buyaspora\.

The challenge for this flood of cash coming to the market will be finding deals that offer comparable returns to those done a couple of years ago. It will take more than the luck of the Irish.

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