State-backed fund to run The Convention Centre

Irish Infrastructure Fund is preferred bidder to run centre with potential to build a 330-bed hotel on adjacent site

The Irish Infrastructure Fund may build and operate an approximately 330-bed hotel on a site adjacent to the centre(Photograph : Matt Kavanagh / THE IRISH TIMES)

The Irish Infrastructure Fund may build and operate an approximately 330-bed hotel on a site adjacent to the centre(Photograph : Matt Kavanagh / THE IRISH TIMES)

 

The Irish Infrastructure Fund, which is backed by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (formerly the National Pensions Reserve Fund), has been selected as the preferred bidder to operate and maintain The Convention Centre on Dublin’s Spencer Dock.

The centre, which was developed as a public private partnership between Spencer Dock Development Company Ltd and the Office of Public Works, is a state owned building. It is operated under a concession agreement from the Office of Public Works which runs until 2035.

Since opening in September 2010, the centre has been trading profitably and recently celebrated its 1,000th event. In the last six months alone, the centre has secured 120 events which are forecast to generate more than € 30 million for the local economy.

In October 2012 Spencer Dock Development Company, which was owned by John Ronan and Richard Barrett of Treasury Holdings and the property developer Harry Crosbie, was put into liquidation, and in October 2014, the joint liquidators, Paul McCann and Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton, began the sale process of the contract to run the centre.

Financial advisor to the liquidators, Rubicon Infrastructure Advisors, said it received “strong interest” from a wide range of institutional investors.

The Irish Infrastructure Fund (IIF) emerged as the preferred bidder to acquire the concession contract to operate and maitain the Convention Centre, as well as a long term lease of the 321-space car park that is located underneath the centre, and the license to build and operate an approximately 330-bed hotel on a site adjacent to the centre. It will collect a performance-based payment for the proper maintenance and operation of the building, along with trading revenue generated from events hosted at the centre.

The IIF was launched in 2012 by Irish Life Investment Managers (ILIM) to secure and invest up to € 1bn from global and Irish institutional investors for investment in significant Irish infrastructure assets. The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund is a key strategic cornerstone investor in the fund.

Patrick Burke, managing director of Irish Life Investment Managers, said that the centre is “an exceptional asset”.

“We are keen to utilise our significant experience and that of AMP Capital to fully maximise the potential of this nationally-important asset,” he said.

The transaction is expected to complete during the coming months subject to receipt of the required consents from the Office of Public Works (on behalf of the State), the senior lenders and others such as the Competition Authority.