It began over a coffee in the Merrion Hotel. It was six years ago, and the Scottish financier Alan McIntosh was looking for an experienced builder to help him meet the huge demand he could see for housing in Ireland post its 2008 economic crash.

On the other side of the coffee table was Irish builder Michael Stanley. Along with his brother Kevin, Michael Stanley had grown up among housebuilders and they were itching to get going again.

“Alan saw the opportunity at the same time,” Michael Stanley recalled in a 2017 interview.

Ireland needed tens of thousands of homes but most of its traditional house builders had gone bankrupt or had seen their business hollowed out trying to deal with their debts.

Stanley, whose father and uncle had founded Shannon Homes in the 1970s, had taken the difficult decision to mothball his own family business in 2008. Now there was a once in a lifetime opportunity with the Irish state, private banks, and British financial institutions all prepared to offload vast tranches of prime land that had lain idle during the crash. Whoever could get out of the traps first to secure these sites was likely to do very well, but it wouldn’t be easy.

Over coffee, the two men sketched out the plan for what would eventually become Cairn Homes, the publicly listed housebuilder.

McIntosh assisted the Stanleys to get out of Nama and a 50-acre site they owned in Park Side in Balgriffin in north Dublin was later rolled into Cairn.

The story of how Cairn Homes became the first Irish housebuilder to go public in 20 years is, by now, well told. It is all there, spelt out in its publicly available prospectus, quarterly and annual reports.

Stanley, the Cairn chief executive, has done plenty of interviews, and he can be heard on investor conference calls regularly.

But what of McIntosh? On its website, Cairn summarises Alan McIntosh’s career in just 107 words.

But McIntosh’s track-record in business is fascinating – and until now has been largely untold. He has co-founded numerous companies, listed some, and bought and sold many others.

In Ireland, the range of deals he is involved with is not widely known – from being the highest bidder for Copper Face Jacks prior to its owner taking the nightclub off the market to building up a nursing home group to doing sale-and-leaseback deals with publicans.

Married to a Dubliner, McIntosh lives in one of London’s finest mansions and has mixed it with some of the biggest names in British business.

He has never done an interview, and he politely declined to comment for this article.

However, this is his story. Or at least a first draft of it. It is based on information gleaned from talking to those who have worked for, with or against him, as well as company filings, documents and industry experts.

So, having founded a listed homebuilder and snapping up pubs, property and nursing homes in Ireland, just who is Alan McIntosh?

Origins of a dealmaker

Alan McIntosh was born in Billericay, Essex, England in 1967. His parents Ian George and Felicity Noel McIntosh were both Scottish. Even though their son was born in England, he spent many of his formative years in Scotland and sees himself as such. Alan McIntosh’s father was a bank manager whose work took his family overseas to the Middle East and Africa. As a result, he spent his boyhood years with his parents in exotic locales fostering in him a love of travel and adventure.

From the age of 12 however he spent his school days in the more austere environs of a boarding school back home in Britain.

McIntosh was always entrepreneurial. As a boy he sold homemade lemonade to his neighbours and as a young man he read widely about business.

After school McIntosh went to Aberdeen University where he did a four-year degree in Economics and Economics History.

McIntosh loved his time in university, and he read voraciously learning about the history of manias and financial crashes, while honing his numeracy and analytical skills.

In 1990, he joined Deloitte & Touche where he trained and qualified in accountancy. In or around late 1993 he joined the corporate finance arm of Hill Samuel where he stayed for a year. His time in Hill Samuel exposed McIntosh to Hugh Osmond and Luke Johnson, who were on the cusp of becoming among London City’s hottest dealmakers.

Teaming up with Hughie and Louie

The businessman Hugh Osmond

Nicknamed “Hughie and Louie”, Hugh Osmond and Luke Johnson had become friends as undergraduates in Oxford. As students they’d interviewed Richard Branson for the college paper, inspiring them – as the Virgin boss did for a generation – to become entrepreneurs.

Osmond and Johnson were men in a hurry. Their first taste for business was organising club nights together, and both were confident characters. 

Osmond was suave, eminently quotable and an aggressive dealmaker.

Johnson was the son of a popular historian who’d worked for a while as a media analyst with a stockbroker. He could be abrasive but was undoubtedly smart too. He moonlighted as a journalist and had business contacts all over the place.

Osmond and Johnson had teamed up in 1989, and not long after they’d bought a tiny shell company together called Star Computers.

In 1993 they’d daringly bought Pizza Express, which was distressed at the time, by reversing the pizza business into Star Computers. This gave them access to the capital required to grow Pizza Express into a huge national chain. In 1995 the business came to Ireland where it trades under the Milano brand.

In a 2000 interview with The Independent in London, Osmond recalled the deal. “When we bought Pizza Express for £20 million in 1993, everyone said we were daft because the company had 12 restaurants and was losing £500,000 a year. Pizza Express is now worth £450 million.”

McIntosh had worked on some transactions for Osmond and Johnson while he was with Hill Samuel. They liked his intelligence and ability to work hard, so they asked him to join them. McIntosh quit his steady job in investment banking, and started working instead in a modest office above a Pizza Express in London.

McIntosh was very young, and he was now working side-by-side with two highly dynamic and demanding entrepreneurs. Pizza Express was opening a restaurant a week, and throwing off cash, and its shares responded accordingly. In an August 2020 interview, Osmond told The Sunday Times: “The UK was coming out of recession and you could pick up properties anywhere on any high street. Landlords were delighted to see us. There was nothing like it.”

As Osmond and Johnson piled into more deals, McIntosh’s accountancy skills were important in holding things together. But his real skill was in investment origination, sniffing out the right deal to pursue. McIntosh had an instinct for identifying companies that were ripe for being turned around.

One of the first deals McIntosh was involved in was a small listed company called Blakes Clothing. The men’s clothing business was doing fine, and the plan was to reverse a bridal business that was doing less well into it. McIntosh was, for a time, chairman of this business.

At the height of the dot-com bubble Osmond, Johnson and a third business partner Edward Spencer-Churchill reversed a company called e-xentric into Blakes with the plan being to create an internet service company to make acquisitions.

In the wild early months of 2000, investors piled into the stock causing it to rise 18-fold in a day. By December e-xentric was sold for £1 back to its original owners, leaving a cash shell with £39 million.

The tech bubble drew in many entrepreneurs both internationally and in Ireland. Fortunes vanished overnight, but thankfully for McIntosh and his business partners it was just a small part of what they were up to. Most of their other business interests prospered.

Timing is important in business, and undoubtedly McIntosh learned from his brush with a dot-com rollercoaster. It was a lesson he would recall when co-founding Cairn at the bottom of the market. 

Topps Tiles was another early deal McInstosh worked on in those early years. Topps Tiles was a solid but unspectacular private business owned by three partners that was considering a floatation. Founded in 1963 in Manchester it had merged with Tile Kingdom in 1990. One of its owners wanted out prior to the float, so Osmond, Johnson and McIntosh bought in.

In terms of timing and execution, it was a brilliant deal.

The British home improvements market went on a long run of sustained growth, and the trend of using tiles rather than carpets or wallpaper took hold. The business floated in 1997 at about £20 million, but went as high as £350 million.

Luke Johnson

There were lots of share splits to keep trading liquid, but on a like-for-like basis Topps Tiles share price went up by 30-fold from float to its peak. McIntosh was a board member from 1997 until March 2008. It was being involved in this business that first made McIntosh proper money, although he was still far from rich in London terms.

He had shares in the company and, as things progressed, he took money off the table, including selling £525,000 in May 2003.

The share price of Topps Tiles fell sharply in the months before and in the year after McIntosh’s departure in 2008. This was hardly his fault; the world’s economy was heading into a deep recession, and the nature of Topps Tiles left it vulnerable as it did so many other companies exposed to property.

Topps Tiles was undoubtedly a great success.

It became a national brand in Britain used by millions of people. Today it has 344 stores, and employs over 1500 people. 

Alan McIntosh was flat out working on deals in the decade after he left Hill Samuel. He was a financial engine pumping out ideas and seeking opportunities. Gradually the balance of power shifted from the business being led by Osmond and Johnson, to McIntosh taking a greater role. This happened, as these things tend to, over time.

One of the deals Johnson initiated involved STS Flooring Distributors, an on-trade flooring product business. It was an unsexy business, a bit like Topps. Johnson asked McIntosh to go onto its board. Based in South London, the business had two outlets, but never really took off, and after a couple of years McIntosh got out of it. Around this time Osmond parted ways with Johnson.

The connection had always been loose in that they invested deal-by-deal, and both men always had side-interests.

In 1999, Johnson set up a company called Intrinsic Value. Since the mid-1990s he’d been involved in nightclubs which were high profile and involved lots of late nights. In 1999 he’d set up Signature Restaurants, which owned, for a time, the Ivy and Le Caprice. On the side he was a business columnist with The Sunday Telegraph and he was dabbling in various other bits and pieces.

Osmond wanted to step things up, as did McIntosh, and not get distracted in smaller deals, even if they were fun. Johnson was entertaining the likes of Kate Moss and other celebrities, and busy juggling a lot of balls. The duo parted ways.

In 2000, Osmond said in an interview: “I think there always is, and always was, some competition between us. It was great working with Luke but I think we’ve proved we can function independently. It was not some kind of Siamese twin-ship.”

Between buying, selling, demerging, floating and issuing innovative new securitisations he had experienced a huge amount in under a decade.

The following year Osmond and Johnson fell out publicly when Osmond felt forced to invoke a non-compete clause to prevent his friend backing a consortium bidding for a group of pubs he wanted.

Johnson when asked by a journalist to talk about what happened replied: “No comment. That’s no C-O-double-M-E-N-T.”

Osmond was now working with McIntosh and a small group of others. Eventually their partnership became formalised when they cofounded Sun Capital Partners in 2001. But they were working on deals together already that would later form part of the history of Sun Capital. Having vowed to step things up a level, it didn’t take long for Osmond and McIntosh to find their metier.

McIntosh is called to the bar

In 1989 Britain’s then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had sought to deregulate the pubs market by issuing Beer Orders, which broke-up the system that effectively “tied” brewers to pubs.

As a result, in the next 15 years big brewers began to offload thousands of pubs in Britain into the market. At the same time brewers started to invest more in the pubs that they held onto. More women started going to the pub, and people had more money to spend there. Consumers began to expect better fit-outs, decent food, clean floors and proper service. They were no longer prepared to put up with what they had in the past.

McIntosh was one of the financial brains behind this revolution.

The first person to really get what the changes meant was legendary dealmaker Guy Hands, who was then at Nomura (and later founded Terra Firma). Hands had bought a portfolio of 800 pubs from the big brewers called Phoenix Inns. In 1997 Osmond and McIntosh bought these pubs, which traded as the Wellington Pub Company, from him for £220 million with the backing of Morgan Stanley.

McIntosh’s financial expertise saw an innovative way to release value from the business. The freeholds of the pub group were refinanced in 1998 by issuing a long-term bond which was the first ever leased pub securitisation.

Nobody had done this before in the pubs game, but McIntosh brought City nous to what was seen before as more of a grubby business.

Doing this gave McIntosh and his partners the firepower to invest in improving the pub group to meet consumer needs while continuing to add to their portfolio.

In 2004, the Reuben brothers bought Wellington for £450 million.

David and Simon Reuben had become billionaires from the aluminium wars in Russia and today they are considered among the richest people in Britain.

For Osborne and McIntosh, the sale was a big success. They’d made a multiple of their original investment and were positioned for even more deals.

They had also shown the City they could do it.

The Punch Taverns deal was a major coup for McIntosh

Around the same time in 1997, Osmond and McIntosh were pursuing a second drive into the pubs game in a series of deals that became Punch Taverns, which would eventually become for a time Britain’s biggest pub group. Osmond and McIntosh started by buying a big group of pubs from Bass Lease Co, and later they bought more pubs from the Inn Business Group.

Roger Myers and Karen Jones came on board around 1999. They had just sold a chain of restaurants called the Pelican Group to Whitbread for £133 million.

At a party to celebrate the sale of the restaurants which traded as Cafe Rouge in 1996 Myers got talking to Osmond, his erstwhile rival for new locations at Pizza Express.

Both men had delivered for their backers in casual dining, and now they both agreed to team up and go into the pubs business in a big way together.

In 1999, interview Myers said that Osmond read a balance sheet “like a musician reading music…I’m not bad at that side of things, but I’m not that good, and I decided I would leave all that to him and Alan McIntosh, our finance director.”

Morgan Stanley and Bankers Trust provided financial backing to a series of pub acquisitions, with McIntosh’s financial smarts knitting things together.

The new target was a step up again. Punch made a cash offer for Allied Domecq which had a 3,500 strong pub estate in 1999. Whitbread had a £2.7 billion bid already on the table.

This was big league stuff. Osmond was just 37 at the time, while McIntosh was only 32.

Few thought they could do it, but by July 1999 Punch had secured the pub group with a £2.75 billion offer, backed by among others David Bonderman’s Texas Pacific. Allied chairman Sir Christopher Hogg said: “I am satisfied that this price, together with the substantially improved terms and conditions of the contract, is an excellent result for our shareholders.”

This was yet another highly complex deal.

After the deal Punch spun off its managed pubs division into what became the Spirit Group.

But the really interesting thing was that the deal was refinanced by the first securitisations of both tenanted and managed pubs.

When McIntosh started doing deals in Ireland, he put some noses out of joint. He didn’t respect the “pecking-order”, said one property source.

McIntosh was central to this securitisation, which again impressed the City.

By 2002 Punch Group was ready for the stock market after it demerged the Spirit Group. Punch was now Britain’s largest tenanted pub company with an enterprise value of £3.5 billion when it reached the market. 

Spirit Group was now independent from Punch. In 2003 Spirit bought Scottish & Newcastle’s estate of 1,450 pubs for £2.5 billion. Spirit sold off a few hundred pubs quickly. In December 2005 Punch then bought Spirit for £2.7 billion beating a rival bid from Robert Tchenguiz.

McIntosh was a cofounder of Wellington, Punch and Spirit. He was at various points finance director of all three businesses.

Between buying, selling, demerging, floating and issuing innovative new securitisations he had experienced a huge amount in under a decade.

It was impossible to tell how wealthy he now was.

McIntosh was usually one step back from the spotlight versus his business partners. He let them do the interviews, while he got mentioned only in despatches.

To get a sense of how well he was doing, Seamus FitzPatrick’s CapVest was a co-investor in some Sun Capital deals back in the 1990s.

CapVest investors made an internal rate of return of over 400 per cent when they invested in Punch in April 1998 and exited in October 1999.

CapVest later invested in Spirit and again in Punch between 1999 and 2003 and 1999 and 2006 respectively. These deals made an IRR of 10 per cent and 32 per cent respectively for its investors, which was a solid if not spectacular return.

The principals of Sun Capital as originators who put these deals together will have done even better.   

Whatever way you looked at it, McIntosh, as cofounder of Sun Capital Partners, was now a player in the markets.

Going into insurance

In 2005 Sun Capital teamed up with TDR Capital, a private equity firm set up by Manjit Dale and Stephen Robertson. They bought the closed life insurance business of the Henderson Group for £1.1 billion. The business was operated and managed by Sun Capital which led the deal. In 2007 the business acquired Resolution plc and the combined business was floated in 2009 as the Pearl Group. McIntosh was closely involved in these transactions and he is considered a co-founder of the business which was later renamed Phoenix Group. It is hard to tell how much McIntosh made from this business. At one stage he owned 9.6 million shares in it, but he has sold down his stake over the years. His stake in the business is currently valued at over £27 million. Today Phoenix is on the FTSE-100 and has a market capitalisation of £7 billion. The business throws off strong dividends – which as a shareholder McIntosh will have benefited from. As a business it has worked out very well overall for investors. 

Founding Emerald

Around 2010, Alan McIntosh left Sun Capital Partners. He’d been working with Hugh Osmond for over a decade, so it was time for something new. Sun Capital had enjoyed an incredible period of deal making – buying for example four UK CenterParcs for £465 million after a fire destroyed one of their main sites before selling the business on to Blackstone in 2006. There was also a big deal involving a dentistry business.

The experience had allowed McIntosh to take a look at hundreds of deals and go hard after dozens. In 2002 for example Sun Capital tried to buy Travelodge and Little Chef. Reflecting on all the deals he had done Osmond said: “If you look at our track record, we have always left behind businesses that are functioning better.”

While this is broadly true, it is also fair to say Sun Capital made lots of money for its founders and followers. How much is impossible to tell as it is a private business. Again it is not clear if there was a particular reason why McIntosh and Osmond ended their partnership, but there was certainly a sense that the two strong-willed men were beginning to go in different directions.

Osmond had by far the higher media profile. The City however knew McIntosh well, and according to one banker who dealt with him, his reputation was “tough but extremely intelligent and capable”. McIntosh had invested in many Sun Capital deals so even though he was not turning up in its Marylebone home in the West End of London daily he was still a stakeholder in many of its deals. It was not as simple as being an investor in, say a big liquid fund where he could just sell out his position and be gone. McIntosh actually only exited the last of his Sun Capital deals earlier this month. This was the sale of a big portfolio of branches from Banco Santander. After he left Sun Capital, McIntosh spent several years out of business entirely. Extensive garden leaving is common in big private equity firms, so this undoubtedly accounted for part of it. 

McIntosh travelled extensively during this time. He kite-surfed. He spent time with his wife Dee from Killiney and his family during this period. He also began to think about what was next.


One of the last deals Alan McIntosh worked on when he worked with Osmond was an attempt to buy Crest Nicholson in early 2010. The British housebuilder had fallen into the control of its lenders and an approach was made to buy the business for £400 million using a new investment company called the Horizon Acquisition Company. Horizon had raised £408 million in February 2010 with the plan being to acquire businesses that had become distressed following the crash. McIntosh was one of its six board members along with Osmond, Michael Fairey, the former deputy chief executive of Lloyds TSB Group, Terry Eccles, a former Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Cazenove and British Airways board member Baroness Denise Kingsmill.

McIntosh had crunched the numbers on Crest Nicholson and was convinced that buying the housebuilder was a brilliant opportunity as the housebuilding sector in Britain was decimated. McIntosh reached a provisional deal to buy the business, but Osmond vetoed it. A little-known Minnesota hedge fund called Varde Partners instead ended up in control of the business. Varde made a fortune when Crest Nicholson was refloated in 2013. It was a missed opportunity, but it got McIntosh thinking. He could see there was a similar opportunity in the Irish market for a new housebuilder funded by equity raised from the markets rather than relying on going to Ireland’s broken banks to raise debt. Cairn would be the result of this realisation. The Irish market was in even more trouble than Britain and housebuilders capable of building thousands of homes were badly needed.

Building his own team

By 2012 Alan McIntosh was ready to go out on his own. He was wealthy and hugely experienced with connections at the highest levels of international banking in London. McIntosh set up his own business called Emerald Investment. On its website McIntosh’s venture states: “Emerald is a long-term investor, partnering with companies that have significant growth potential and first-class management teams to create sustainable value.”

Emerald itself has a tight team of no more than a dozen people. It is chaired by Neil Hyman, a former corporate and M&A partner of Slaughter and May, and he is the only member of its team other than McIntosh named on its website. In Dublin Emerald is based in Marine House in Dublin 2.

In London it is based in the decoratively designed Michelin House on the Fulham Road which dates back to 1911 and once housed the headquarters of the famous tyre maker. It has only about a dozen people in its team which would be normal for an investment business of its kind. Nick Ledbetter has been a director of the business since 2012. Ledbetter’s father Peter worked with Tony Ryan in the early days of GPA and he was also an executive director with Irish Life & Permanent. Daniel Rossen has been Emerald’s finance director for the last five years having previously worked in gambling company Full Tilt. Ronan McCardle, the son of Dundalk businessman Frank, is also an executive with Emerald. Mark O’Brien previously worked with Emerald but he left a number of years ago to set up Revelate Capital which invests in property.

Should McIntosh have sold the Esmonde Motors site to Cairn sooner? Not unless he wanted to.

McIntosh required no external money to fund his investments. It was his money so he could invest quickly and flexibly as he was not locked into having to return money to investors within a set timeframe. McIntosh started buying up properties, but it was low key versus the mega-deals he had worked on in London. He rented a nice house on the Merrion Road side of Dublin 4 and for the next number of years spent a lot of time in Ireland particularly once Cairn began to take off. McIntosh was friendly with Irish businesspeople in London. “He is someone you’d bump into at events in London. He wasn’t a social butterfly but he was Scottish so he had a lot more in common with us than say some English people,” an Irish business person who met him at various events said. McIntosh knew lots of Irish people who were based in Britain full-time or did a lot of deals there.

When McIntosh started doing deals in Ireland, he put some noses out of joint. He didn’t respect the “pecking-order”, said one property source. “This wasn’t a bad thing in my view,” the source added. “But he was a bit of an unknown factor. He was buying up stuff at the start and outbidding people. Nobody really knew how much firepower he had.”

One of the first deals Emerald did was in 2014 was when it spent over €30 million buying the Carechoice nursing and retirement group from businessman Michael Lane and other investors. Carechoice had five facilities in Cork and Waterford. Emerald invested millions in the business and it built new facilities including a 165-bed nursing home on the Malahide Road in Dublin. It also assembled a range of sites for more nursing homes including a well-placed one on the former site of Esmonde Motors in Stillorgan, south Dublin. The nursing home business did fine, but it was a difficult business that required huge scale to make real money out of. Emerald decided to put the business, which by then had 500 beds, on the block in early 2017. In April 2017 InfraVia, a French infrastructure fund bought Carechoice for €70 million advised by the corporate finance arm of Investec. Not included in the sale was the Esmonde Motors site, which was retained by McIntosh.

The Esmonde Motors dilemma

Earlier this month Cairn announced it was buying the Esmonde Motors site from Alan McIntosh, its founder, former executive, and current board member for €14 million. Cairn said the deal made sense as the 1.35-acre site was adjacent to the Blakes Site, another vacant lot owned by Cairn. Having the extra space Cairn said would allow it to build 200 more apartments on the combined site. The deal raised eyebrows as it involved a company insider, but Cairn said it was satisfied that all was above board.

It is worth examining the sequence of events.

McIntosh bought the Esmonde Motors site for an estimated €7.2 million in or around August 2015. The site was put on the market by a receiver in May 2015 by the estate agent Knight Frank. Cairn floated in June 2015. It was known in property circles that the Blake Site was potentially coming on the market as part of Project Clear, a €503 million portfolio of sites, that was being prepared to be sold off by Ulster Bank. It was only on September 24 that Cairn saw for certain that the Esmonde Motor site was part of the package when it got access to the Project Clear data room along with other bidders. As co-founder of Cairn, of course, McIntosh knew that Cairn was bidding for Project Clear, but not before he bought the Esmonde site.

It was by no means a sure thing that Cairn would win Project Clear as they were up against rival bidders with deep pockets including Blackstone. Cairn had, for example, identified the old Jurys Ballsbridge site in Dublin 4 as of interest but they were beaten by Joe O’Reilly, who was backed by a Middle East sovereign wealth fund. It was only in December 2015 that Cairn completed its Project Clear acquisition. This brought the Blakes site into Cairn’s possession and its next challenge was to get planning for the site, which was once a family restaurant. McIntosh, meanwhile, decided to sell Carechoice in 2017 but he held onto the Esmonde Motors site for himself. At the time Carechoice bought the Esmonde site Cairn was at the tail end of an exhausting roadshow which raised €425 million and made it the first Irish housebuilder to list in 20 years. It was hardly at the top of Michael Stanley’s mind or the company’s advisors Credit Suisse and Goodbody. McIntosh was intensely involved in this roadshow using his contacts to investors in London and it seems unlikely it was at the top of his mind either.

So, should Cairn have bid for the Esmonde Motors site in the summer of 2015? Yes, if it could be sure it would get the adjoining site as part of Project Clear that winter. If it didn’t get that portfolio it would not have made that much sense as while it was in a good location it wasn’t that big to move the dial.

Should McIntosh have sold the Esmonde Motors site to Cairn sooner? Not unless he wanted to. McIntosh risked his own money on the deal in 2015. He was free to sell it whenever and to whoever he wanted. He does not have to do the listed housebuilder any soft favours. 

McIntosh also has substantial hotel interests. He acquired the Radisson Hotel at Dublin Airport with an Irish business partner.

Should Cairn have paid what they paid for it? Clearly the site has increased in value a lot since 2015 not least because Cairn got a favourable planning permission on an adjoining site. Cairn states the price paid makes sense and states the property was valued by Hooke & McDonald. The site was always worth a premium to Cairn once it got planning for Blakes.

The Esmonde Motors deal will go to shareholders for approval so ultimately it is for them to determine if they are happy with the purchase and the price being paid.

McIntosh also by the way controls another site across the road from the Blakes site which houses Bolands pub. This is an awkward site on a steep hill on a corner by traffic lights. McIntosh bought it in 2017 and then leased it back to its owner. It is a site unlikely to be of interest to a housebuilder like Cairn because of its inaccessibility.


Alan McIntosh lives with his family in a beautiful home in the Boltons that is one of the finest in London. JP McManus’ son John McManus lives a few doors down in a house that he bought with his wife Emma for £55 million in 2012. Emma’s maiden name is Ledbetter and her brother Nick works for McIntosh.

McIntosh has owned his home longer, but it is a stunning property with an underground swimming pool and gym.

Its kitchen opens out into the garden and is reached by passing its wine cellar of vintage bottles. There are only 28 houses in the Boltons where the minimum a house would sell for is £30 million and the maximum is probably north of £100 million. McIntosh’s home is among the best in the Boltons where over the years Madonna and Jeffrey Archer have resided. If he put it on the market it would fetch a serious sum – not that he plans to.

His home is “super-prime” of a level only found in great cities like London, New York or Los Angeles. McIntosh and his family has a second home in Théoule-sur-Mer in the South of France that is also rumoured to be spectacular. 

The 2020 Sunday Times rich list has Alan McIntosh at £153 million (€166 million) or 793rd place in Britain. This would appear to be a very conservative valuation. McIntosh’s remaining shares in Cairn are worth about €40 million, including the 500,000 more shares he bought recently. He has sold almost €40 million in shares in Cairn. His remaining stake in Phoenix is worth €29 million, and he has made millions selling shares previously. That’s over €100 million from just two companies.

Add in whatever McIntosh made selling Carechoice, the Esmonde motors site, plus selling various hotels. Plus whatever he made during the decade plus he spent in Sun Capital Partners and from the various companies he floated during his time there as well as the value in his personal homes. And that’s only the deals we can find out about. It all starts to add up to a very successful if low profile businessman.

Doing deals in Dublin

Copper Face Jacks on Dublin’s Harcourt St.

Although based in London Alan McIntosh has a team on the ground in Dublin and pre-Covid-19 he was regularly back here. The purchase of Bolands Pub in Stillorgan was the first pub deal he did. He was the highest bidder for Copper Face Jacks nightclub and hotel last year with a bid of over €30 million. McIntosh put in the work to buy the property, but its owner decided at the last minute to take it off the market after his health improved. He was one of an array of potential investors in Paddy McKillen Jr and Matt Ryan’s Press Group Group but was never involved seriously in looking at it. He also held talks with The Mercantile Group some time ago but again these did not bear fruit.

Just prior to Covid-19 McIntosh was in talks with The Murray Group about doing a sale and leaseback deal with them around their pubs and properties. The Murray Group has five pubs in Dublin including the massive Camden Deluxe Hotel. This property was bought by the Murray Group for €8.5 million in 2017. In February, just prior to Covid-19 reaching Ireland, McIntosh bought the Old Old Storehouse — formerly Eamonn Doran’s — on Crown Alley in Temple Bar. He remains interested in buying or doing sale-and-leasebacks with more Irish pubs.

With the state enforcing pub closures in Dublin he may find in time many publicans ready to do deals.

McIntosh also has substantial hotel interests. He acquired the Radisson Hotel at Dublin Airport with an Irish business partner. He also co-owns the Fleet Hotel in Dublin City Centre along with Patrick Coyle’s hotel investment company Windward. Coyle is the slight majority shareholder here. He also co-owns the Belson Hotel in Brussels which was once owned by the Gresham Group along with Coyle and a group of other Irish investors.

He has also been prepared to sell opportunistically. He has sold out of the Hilton Hotel at Dublin Airport. He sold the Memphis hotel in Amsterdam after a property developer made such a high bid he had to take it. He also sold the Carat in Hamburg, the Park Inn at Shannon Airport and the Radisson at Cork Airport. McIntosh is not believed to be seeking to sell any of his hospitality assets as he is a strong believer in the long-term prospects of the sector.

Further afield he got involved in a business in Barbados a number of years ago with a former friend which has since gone sour. McIntosh made a $2.5 million investment in the Caribbean island but after he became embroiled in a dispute with a fellow investor and he was unable to get his money back despite years of litigation. The move promoted McIntosh to send a letter to the Prime Minister of Barbados in which he advised people not to invest in Barbados. “The legal system is not fit for foreign investment or even to settle minor disputes in a timely manner,” McIntosh said in his letter.

Emerald has bought the debt of Interserve, a huge contractor, at a steep discount when it ran into trouble a few years ago. In March 2018 The Telegraph reported that McIntosh’s Emerald Investment Partners had spent “tens of millions of pounds” buying up Interserve’s debt in the secondary market. The then FTSE-250 building contractor’s existing lenders Barclays and Lloyds had been selling down their positions at a 50 per cent discount as they were worried about the sector after rival Carillion went bust.

Emerald was estimated by The Telegraph to own up to a third of Interserve’s debt giving it an exposure to a business that employed 80,000 people doing everything from cleaning the London Underground to managing army barracks. “We are very supportive of Interserve’s refinancing, of management, and their strategy. This is not another Carillion,” Emerald’s chairman Neil Hyman told The Telegraph. Interserve was in the thick of refinancing discussions at the time so having Emerald’s public support was helpful as four hedge funds bet against its share price which was falling sharply at the time. 

Interserve is in the process of being broken up and sold off so McIntosh could make good money on this deal in time.

For the last 20 years too McIntosh has been involved in Innovive, which makes disposable cages for medical research, which was founded by an old Irish-born University friend.

He has a diverse and interesting range of business interests that cumulatively is very valuable, and that’s just what we know about.


Alan McIntosh has proven his ability to do big deals. He has been prepared to be both brave and innovative in financing them. Cairn has been criticised in the press as its founders’ shares led to large payouts for Stanley and McIntosh relatively early on in its life. But this mechanism was absolutely transparent to investors in Cairn’s prospectus. Cairn has been criticised too by the financier Dermot Desmond who has described its plans to develop a site formerly owned by RTE in Dublin 4 as “Ballymun Towers South Dublin.” While the Cairn plan does involve both height and density, what is being proposed by Cairn is of a modern design with the best of materials. Its 611 apartments will find ready buyers in a market facing huge shortages.

McIntosh and Stanley convinced investors to IPO what was effectively their business plan. They raised €440 million when it floated, and subsequently brought the total raised from investors to €720 million. Cairn has the cash to build houses when many other developers are reliant on nervous traditional banks or high-interest alternative lenders. It has a pipeline of 15,000 houses. McIntosh may well emerge in time as a significant force in the Irish pub trade too. He clearly has an appetite for big deals still. In Britain, Emerald Investment lost out to Heineken and Patron Capital in a bid to buy Punch Taverns in 2017. McIntosh raised £1.7 billion to do this deal. He is not afraid of crossing the billion mark to get what he wants. In the last crash, McIntosh was a canny and active investor. It is hard not to expect that he will be again this time around whether in Britain or Ireland.