Beach Hotels sold for pounds 46m

Sixty-one-year-old Ray Horney made his second fortune in 12 years yesterday when he agreed a pounds 46m deal to sell St James Beach Hotels, which owns a string of luxury developments in Barbados.

Mr Horney and his wife, Maureen, own 58 per cent of the shares in St James Beach, which means they will net pounds 27m between them. Mr Horney made pounds 21m in 1985 when he sold Rayford Holdings, an electrical retailer, to Harris Queensway.

Speaking from Hove in East Sussex yesterday he said he had no idea how he would spend the money: "I've been involved with the company for eight years and I think it is time to do something different. There's a lot of competition coming from the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Also it's not all fun travelling to and from the Caribbean. It's tiring."

He will jet out there today to bring staff up to date with the takeover, in which Elegant Hotels will offer 200p per share for the group. There is also a special dividend of 4p for shareholders which will net Mr Horney and his wife pounds 540,000.

Mr Horney said he was keen to undertake another venture: "It will probably be something in retail or leisure but I've got no specific plans. I've taken two companies to the market. It would be nice to do three."

St James Beach owns four hotels in Barbados, including the Coconut Creek and Crystal Grove. It recorded profits of pounds 3.9m on sales of pounds 17.3m last year.

Elegant Hotels was formed in 1996 to operate the Tradewinds Hotel in Antigua. It has also acquired a site in Barbados to build another hotel. The company said the combination of the two businesses would provide greater economies of scale and more prominence in the region. St James Beach shares gained 8p to 198p.

Though Mr Horney has made two fortunes in little more than a decade he did suffer a setback last year with a housebuilder called Regent Corporation which ran into difficulties.

The company is now in administration and Mr Horney, who was on the board, is owed pounds 2.5m in loan notes. However, he said they were secured and he was confident he would get the money back.

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