George Best Hotel: Ten bids received for failed Belfast project

The former George Best Hotel in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell.
The former George Best Hotel in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell.

TEN separate bidders have tried to buy the former George Best Hotel in Belfast, it has emerged.

The administrators for the collapsed hotel project have confirmed strong interest in the listed former Scottish Mutual Building next to Belfast City Hall.

But they confirmed none of the bids match the £7.2 million owed to the failed hotel’s chief lender.

It's understood negotiations are are still ongoing in respect of the sale.

The building was placed on the market over the summer, just over two years after Bedford Hotel Ltd collapsed into administration.

Originally launched by Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright’s Signature Living in 2017 as a 63-bedroom boutique hotel, administrators from Kroll were called in by lender Lyell Trading in April 2020.

The secured creditor is owed £7.2 million.

A report published this week by Kroll confirmed that none of the offers received to date would result in Lyell Trading being repaid in full.

Administrators Matthew Ingram and Michael Lennon originally found another £12.2m owed to Bedford Hotel Ltd’s unsecured creditors, including £4.76m owed to the so-called ‘bedroom investors’, made up of dozens of individuals who bought 59 of the hotel rooms 'off plan'.

The administrators originally considered completing the hotel and allowing it to trade for a period before putting it up for sale in order to achieve the best return for the creditors.

But, unable to raise the finance required to complete the construction, they sought court approval to sell the asset.

Efforts to challenge the sale, involving a number of the bedroom investors ultimately failed, with the High Court eventually granting permission to sell the building on June 14 2022.

Colliers began marketing the site in late July, with initial bids called for on September 16 2022.

The latest report from Kroll states an initial nine offers were received from interested parties, which they said “demonstrated the hotel’s wide appeal”.

On September 30, the report said the nine bidders either reaffirmed or increased their offers, with a tenth bidder subsequently entering the competition.

“The interested parties that submitted the best offers were reduced to eight following a further period of buyer due diligence and negotiations,” adds the report.

“The joint administrators are not able to disclose any further details of the bidding process, as they do not wish to prejudice the ongoing negotiations.

“It should be noted that all of the offers received to date are at a level that would not result in the secured creditors being repaid in full.”