Cantillon: Green REIT’s green shoots

Ireland’s first property trust yesterday detailed its €178 million real estate sweep

The EBS  headquarters was one of the buildings purchased in the Green REIT’s acquisition

The EBS headquarters was one of the buildings purchased in the Green REIT’s acquisition

Tue, Oct 29, 2013, 01:01

Green REIT, green shoots, green with envy. Take your pick.

Ireland’s first property trust yesterday detailed its €178 million real estate sweep, the type of commercial property spree we haven’t seen since you know when.

But this does appear to be a positive sign for the Irish market, not simply because of a snail-paced stabilisation but also – with a note of hopeful expectation – a new era of investment structures.

Green REIT has performed the corporate equivalent of a supermarket trolley dash, snapping up a portfolio of competitively priced properties, having raised €310 million in its stock market flotation last July.

These include the ground lease on the Independent Newspapers printing operation in City West; the EBS headquarters in leafy Burlington Road in Dublin 4, (pictured) and a package of 10 assorted properties from Danske Bank, eight of which are in the capital.

Buying investment properties as a concept may remain anathema to Irish society at large, but it cannot remain so forever. Such a large-scale move is arguably unsurprising in the wider context.

If the Irish no longer have the capacity or stomach for bricks and mortar, then the recently increased level of foreign interest – the private equity firms Apollo Global Management, Lone Star, BlackRock and Kennedy Wilson are all among the private equity players to buy here in the last year – is indicative of some degree of recovery at least.

There is a sense of change too in Green being the country’s first REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) under changes introduced by the Government in Budget 2013.

That saw the end of a doubling-up of taxation in the corporate sector (rental tax and income tax on dividends) which, according to the REITs forum,
systemically brought about the
demise of property companies and the growth in private ownership and syndicates.