Investors to lose up to £4m as High Court judge rules George Best Hotel can be sold

Investors in bedrooms at the stalled George Best Hotel in Belfast are set to lose up to £4million after a High Court judge ruled the property can be sold.

Madam Justice McBride granted an order for sale of the building to administrators appointed to the failed city centre project.

But she also acknowledged the serious financial impact on many of those individuals who put their lifetime savings into the boutique hotel scheme.

“The court obviously had immense sympathy for the bedroom investors who stand to lose their entire investment without any return,” the judge said.

In April 2020 the company behind the hotel being built at Donegall Square went into administration.

By that stage individual bedroom investors had put money into the project, with the expectation of securing an interest once the doors were opened.

The court heard that around £4m was received from them and used to fund the development.

But the main lender, Lyell Trading Limited, was ranked as having first charge over the property.

The administrators sought legal permission to sell the building in order to fulfil its duty and make a distribution to secured or preferential creditors.

More than 20 bedroom investors filed evidence in the case, with adjournments sought to investigate the potential for a third party investor to complete the development of the hotel and then either sell the hotel or operate it as a going concern.

They stated that an investor firm had expressed substantial interest in making a commercial proposal that would benefit all stakeholders.

Seventeen of them submitted “personal stories” describing the impact the loss of this investment has had on their lives and futures.

Ultimately, however, Madam Justice McBride decided to grant the administrators’ application for permission to sell.

She stated: “The court has, it considers, given ample opportunity for attempts to be made to secure the best return for the creditors as a whole.

“And despite adjourning the matter on three occasions no viable proposal had been made by a third party investor.”

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