Stillorgan Shopping Centre owner to buy back £100m of shares

Kennedy Wilson among the first investors to snap up Irish property after crash

Stillorgan Shopping Centre. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

Stillorgan Shopping Centre. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

 

Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate, the London-listed property company behind the Stillorgan Shopping Centre and a number of Dublin office blocks, has launched a £100 million (€116 million) share buyback programme to bolster returns for investors.

The company, which was floated in 2012, stems from California-based real estate giant Kennedy Wilson’s push in the Irish and British property markets in the middle of the financial crisis, when assets in Dublin, in particular, were being sold off at a fraction of their boom-time values.

“The share buyback programme is part of our ongoing commitment to balance sheet management and efficiency, while leaving sufficient liquidity to capitalise on potential future market opportunities,” said Mary Ricks, chief executive of Kennedy Wilson Europe.

A presentation on the company’s website shows that its borrowings stood at less than 42 per cent of the value of its assets at the end of June, some 30 per cent below what is allowed by its debt covenants.

Investments in Ireland are held through two Irish qualifying investor alternative investment funds (QIAIFs), which are exempt from any Irish taxation on income and gains.

However, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is under stood to be looking at the taxation of Irish property in such funds, having clamped down on another fund structure, known as Section 110 special purpose vehicle companies, favoured by investors that snapped up real-estate following the crash.

The company generated £19 million of rental income in Ireland in the first half of this year, compared to £62.4 million in the UK and £12.2 million for the rest of Europe, according to its interim report.

Among its recent developments was a 12,012sq m (129,300 sq ft) office redevelopment at Baggot Plaza in Dublin, which it has let out to Bank of Ireland. The bank received the keys to the building in July to continue its fit-out. The company is also revamping the Stillorgan Shopping Centre, the State’s oldest shopping mall.