US-backed Broadhaven is thought to be paying more than €90 million for three Dublin sites with planning permission for up to 870 homes.
New York investor Centerbridge's Irish arm and local firms, Avestus and Regency, last year put three sites, in Hollystown, Portmarnock and Rathfarnham, up for sale, appointing London-based Eastdil Securities to manage the auction.
Broadhaven, funded by US-based Bain Capital Partners and led by former banker David Cullen, has emerged as the successful bidder. Neither side commented on the transaction, but its value is thought to be more than €90 million.
Because of its scale, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has to approve the sale. Broadhaven and Bain notified details of the deal to the mergers’ watchdog on Wednesday.
The commission has up to 30 working days to complete a phase-one inquiry into the transaction, after which it must decide whether to approve it or subject it to a more detailed investigation that could stretch to 120 working days.
The sites are Hollywoodrath in Hollystown, Scholarstown Wood in Rathfarnham and Station Manor in Portmarnock. The seller assembled the portfolio at a cost of about €60 million and is likely to have spent further money building on two of the sites. They have planning permission for up to 874 homes.
Their new owner is likely to bring in a developer to build the houses. A number of new homes built in Hollywoodrath and Scholarstown sold quickly after going on the market last year. Building has yet to start on the Portmarnock site.
Three companies, Gembira, Broadcrest and Circleside own the sites. Broadhaven and Bain acquired these through a recently established vehicle, Limestone Funding Holdings. According to the CCPC, the US fund ultimately controls Limestone.
Private equity fund
Boston-based Bain Capital is a private equity fund that manages more than $75 billion (€67 billion) on behalf of its investors. Former US presidential candidate, Mitt Romney co-founded the business in the 1980s. It invests in a range of assets and companies and has operations in the US, Europe and Asia.
Broadhaven launched almost three years ago with the aim of investing up to €200 million in house building and property-related activities. Businessman Dermot Desmond was one of the original investors, but he has since exited and Bain is now its sole backer.
Earlier this month Broadhaven invested €35 million in rescuing Regency Hotel owner, the McGettigan Group, from examinership. Previously, it helped refinance the €60 million debt publican and hotelier Louis Fitzgerald's empire owed to Goldman Sachs, which had acquired the debt from the defunct Anglo Irish Bank. It is understood that the company has further cash to invest in the Republic.
Centerbridge is another private equity fund. Its headquarters are in New York and it manages about $25 billion on its investors' behalf. It acquired the three Dublin sites with Avestus and Regency, which had minority holdings in the venture.