Harcourt behind #47m Belfast shipyard land deal


Harcourt Developments, a property company controlled by businessman Mr Pat Doherty, is behind a £47 million (€67 million) deal to acquire lands formerly occupied by Belfast shipbuilder Harland and Wolff.

Harland and Wolff's Norwegian owner, Fred Olsen Energy, has agreed terms for the sale of its interests in Titanic Quarter, a 185-acre site earmarked for development on Belfast's Queens Island.

The sale, which is not expected to conclude until the end of the year, will see Fred Olsen exit the project.

In a statement to the Oslo Stock Exchange, the company said it had agreed to sell its subsidiary company, Ivy Wood, which is in turn the owner of Titanic Quarter.

Fred Olsen had expressed its desire to divest the asset several months ago, saying that it wanted to concentrate on core activities.

No statement was forthcoming from Harcourt yesterday and it is not clear whether Mr Doherty's firm is the sole player in the deal.

The transaction is being handled by Belfast property firm, Insignia Richard Ellis Gunne.

A spokesman for Fred Olsen said the sale had "registered significant interest".

The Titanic Quarter area is on track to be converted into a mixed-use development, including industrial, cultural and residential units.

When completed, it will be Belfast's largest property development.

When plans for the project were unveiled last year, it was estimated that it would cost £50 million and would have the potential to attract investment worth £1 billion.

The initiative was, at that time, being jointly led by Fred Olsen and Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

The land on which the planned development is located was previously dedicated entirely to ship-building, but became free as demand for Harland and Wolff's services dried up in recent years.

The company, which famously built the ill-fated Titanic, plans to retain an 80-acre site on the edge of Titanic Quarter, where a scaled-down operation will be maintained.

Harcourt is best known as the developer of the €250 million Parkwest development in west Dublin, but the company also has a large portfolio of retail developments, including shopping centres in Galway and Portlaoise.

Harcourt has also developed a number of properties in London.

The firm, which includes former RTÉ presenter Mr Mike Murphy on its board, sold its entire 10.5 per cent holding in housebuilder McInerney last week, raising about €2.75 million.