The move means only Dalata is a bigger hotel group in the country...
Hotel Group Tifco – in which Goldman Sachs has a controlling stake – is gearing up to take over the Travelodge franchise in Ireland, consolidating its position as the country's second-largest hotel operator after Dalata.
The Irish Times reports that the deal, which will require approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, will see Tifco adding 12 low-cost inns around Ireland to its portfolio. The value of the deal is not known.
Tifco currently owns seven hotels, including three Crowne Plazas, in the country. It also manages another seven, including the five-star Hermitage golf and spa resort in Laois.
Goldman Sachs shares ownership of Tifco with Aidan Crowe and Gerry Houlihan, the founder of DID Electrical. Houlihan's family owns Clontarf Castle, which is also operated by Tifco.
The proposed Travelodge deal comes at a time of great activity in the Irish hotel game, with tourism numbers up and massive demand for rooms, particularly in the capital.
Fáilte Ireland's Autumn Tourism Barometer showed 84% of hotels and 76% of guesthouses had increased business this summer, compared to 2015. Overall, 72% of businesses were positive about the outlook for the sector.
Hotels that open all year round were found to be most optimistic businesses about the coming months, with 74% saying they expect business to be up.
Last month, the Gresham Hotel was sold to the Spanish group RIU for €92 million, just one of a number of deals being done this year.
Luis Riu, chief executive of the buying group, said at the time:
"Its tourism industry is booming, demand for rooms rising and the city is putting a lot of money into its infrastructure. We are extremely pleased with the purchase of this hotel in one of the most beautiful European capitals.
"We are sure that it will be the perfect addition to our collection of Riu Plaza hotels and many returning RIU clients will be drawn to discovering this destination with us."