B of I close to leasing high-profile offices in IFSC


Bank of Ireland is close to agreement on leasing a large office block being built in the 12-acre extension to Dublin's International Financial Services Centre. The 82,000 sq ft building, Mayor House, is being developed by a consortium headed by the Westmeath businessman Christopher Bennett. The developers outbid several other companies when they paid the Custom House Docks Development Authority around £8 million for the one-acre site, which had full planning permission for the office scheme.

The bank will be paying a rent of £27.50 per sq ft for the space and £1,500 per annum for each of the 87 car-parking spaces in the basement. The 25-year lease is understood to provide for a break, probably around the 15th year.

The six-storey over basement block is not due to be completed until next January. Willy Dowling of letting agents Gunne would not confirm the B of I deal but said the block was no longer on the market.

An adjoining site of almost 2.5 acres has been earmarked for a 200,000 sq ft office development by Citibank. The bank has yet to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the project. Its position has been complicated by the recent budget changes which restrict the tax write-offs for private investors buying investments in the IFSC. The bank was expected to develop the blocks and later to agree to a sale and leaseback.

Mayor House is expected to qualify for the full tax breaks that apply in the IFSC, though the Government has not yet extended the tax designation to the 12-acre extension. Bank of Ireland owns a 100,000 sq ft block at the front of the IFSC but only has the use of about half of it. The balance of the space was let shortly after its completion to a number of foreign institutions, most of them Japanese and German.

The decision to lease Mayor House will come as a surprise because in recent years the bank has been cutting back on rented space in Dublin. About 500 staff have already been moved to the bank's headquarters in Baggot Street.

Meanwhile, private investors looking for tax shelters in the IFSC will know tomorrow whether there are to be any further changes in the tax regime when the Finance Bill is published. Most interest will centre on whether the Minister for Finance is to allow investing syndicates to have more than 12 members, as has been the practice up to now.