Google close to €120m purchase of Treasury Building

Nama vacates Grand Canal HQ as tech giant concludes deal with Ronan and McKillen

Google have been in talks relating to the purchase of the Treasury Building since 2017. Photograph: Eric Luke

Google have been in talks relating to the purchase of the Treasury Building since 2017. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Google is closing in on the purchase for about €120 million of the Treasury Building on Dublin’s Grand Canal Street.

The US-headquartered tech giant’s acquisition of the property follows more than two years of negotiations with its owners, developers Johnny Ronan, Paddy McKillen and Percy Nominees.

All three parties will be in line for a significant return on the sale of their respective stakes in the building once the sale is completed.

Ronan acquired the former Boland’s Bakery building originally in 1984 for just £400,000. Percy Nominees, an investment vehicle controlled by Davy, bought its one-third stake in the property when Ronan began redeveloping it in 1989. Ambiorix, a company controlled by Ronan; Paddy McKillen’s son, Paddy jnr; and Mr McKillen’s co-director Liam Cunningham. Mr Ronan and Mr McKillen’s company continues to retain a combined 66.67per cent interest in the Treasury Building while Percy Nominees owns the remaining 33.33 per cent share.

While the Treasury Building has long been known as the headquarters of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), in the years following the crash it came to be identified as the home of the National Asset Management Agency. The agency’s near decade-long association with the 11,619sq m (125,066 sq ft) property came to an end in recent months, however, following the relocation of its operations to the NTMA’s new offices at Dublin Landings, the major mixed-use scheme developed by Ballymore and its partners Oxley in the north docklands.

Johnny Ronan’s company, Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE), is also understood to be in the process of moving its headquarters from the Treasury Building to a new location in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

A spokesperson for Google declined to comment on the company’s decision to acquire the Treasury Building when contacted by The Irish Times. RGRE similarly declined to comment on the matter.

Dublin-based workforce

Google’s purchase of the Grand Canal Street property will provide it with the capacity to increase its existing 8,000-strong Dublin-based workforce by up to 1,200. The move is in keeping with its preference for owning its own premises. In 2011, the company bought its European headquarters on Barrow Street and the nearby Montevetro building for €100 million and €99 million respectively. Both buildings were developed by Treasury Holdings, the company formerly led by Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett.

More recently, Google agreed a €300 million deal in 2018 to acquire the entire Bolands Quay scheme. Upon completion, it will comprise 36,851sq m (396,660sq ft) of office, residential, retail and cultural space, and be capable of accommodating up to 2,500 workers.

Google’s employees are also based at the (8,965sq m/96,500sq ft) Grand Mill Quay building, the (4,738sq m/51,000sq ft) Velasco building on Grand Canal Street, and over several floors at businessman Denis O’Brien’s offices at One Grand Canal Quay. The company also has offices in Block L at Freeman House in EastPoint Business Park, and at the Chase and Blackthorn buildings at Sandyford in south Dublin.

Quite apart from its intended purchase of the Treasury Building, Google is also in negotiations currently in relation to the rental of all 202,000sq ft (18,766sq m ) of space at the Sorting Office, the seven-storey office block being developed in the Dublin docklands by Pat Crean’s Marlet Property Group. Should a deal be agreed, the accommodation at the Sorting Office would provide Google with enough room for up to 2,000 personnel.

Outside of its main Dublin campus, the company agreed a deal recently to lease 7,000sq m (75,000sq ft) of office space at the newly-developed Block I building at Central Park in Sandyford, Dublin 18.

The property, which was acquired recently by UK-headquartered Henderson Park as part of its overall €1.34 billion purchase of Green Reit, will provide Google with the capacity for a further 750 workers.