Brexit is a “sweetspot” for Ireland’s commercial property sector at present as companies flock from the UK, a property investment company said.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Pat Gunne, the chief executive of Green Reit, noted that the commercial property sector was a byproduct and a function of the overall Irish economy. "If Brexit is going to interrupt the GDP growth or deflate the level of GDP growth of course, that's going to have an impact on the overall economy. But, at the moment, Brexit is a sweetspot for our sector," he said.
Mr Gunne was speaking in the aftermath of the company's annual general meeting at which all resolutions were carried, including the re-election of both him and Stephen Vernon, a non-executive director.
A British proxy adviser, PIRC, had last week told shareholders to oppose the re-election of Mr Vernon and Mr Gunne on the basis that they couldn’t be considered to be independent. Shareholders appeared to disregard the message and both men were returned by over 98 per of shareholders.
Addressing PIRC's concerns, Gary Kennedy, the company chairman, said "every company in the world has non-independent directors". "The important thing is we have a majority of independent directors on the board."
In October, commercial property investors were surprised by a Government move increasing the rate of commercial stamp duty in the budget. Mr Gunne called the increase “a hit” for the company – as it knocked around €50 million of its share price – but said that the market has “taken it, absorbed it...and the fact that there were 11 bids on The Landings [development] with €1.65 billion in total capital chasing a single deal says it hasn’t interrupted the capital flow.”
Green Reit has 20 properties in its portfolio valued at €1.38 billion. The company’s annual passing rent is €53.8 million on its portfolio of office space, retail, logistics units, and mixed used properties.
The Dublin-centric company has started to explore the expansion of its logistics offering, which is currently about 4 per cent of its portfolio. However, Mr Gunne said that the Irish logistics sector is about two years behind that in the UK, which in turn is two years behind the US.
He said that when online shopping takes more of a hold here, Green Reit will be well poised to take advantage of that with its logistics land bank located beside Dublin airport.