Goldman Sachs has appointed Eastdil Secured and CBRE to find a buyer for the Blanchardstown Centre. The proposed disposal of the west Dublin scheme, the largest shopping centre in the country, is expected to carry a guide price of €650 million-€725 million.
Industry sources have estimated that a sale at this level would see the Wall Street investment giant incurring a loss of €25 million-€100 million on its investment before any allowances for rental income received or capital expenditure.
Goldman Sachs acquired the Blanchardstown Centre for about €750 million in December 2020, after striking a deal with the scheme’s previous owner, Blackstone.
Blackstone paid about €950 million in 2016 to secure ownership of the complex from Stephen Vernon’s Green Property but came under pressure in early 2020 with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. By August of that year, the US-headquartered real estate investor was reportedly prepared to agree to a consensual surrender of control of the centre if a debt deal with its lenders on the scheme could not be agreed.
Blackstone’s near €1 billion purchase of the Blanchardstown Centre, which set a record as the most valuable sale of a single property in the history of the State, is believed to have been financed originally with €250 million of equity, with the balance being a combination of traditional senior debt and mezzanine financing provided by a syndicate of lenders that reportedly included Morgan Stanley, AIG, AIB and Goldman Sachs.
In November 2020, Goldman Sachs sought and secured approval from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to acquire the scheme. In a statement confirming its plan, its merchant banking division described the Blanchardstown Centre as “an excellent asset in a prime location with a very strong mix of high-quality retailers” and indicated its intention to invest in the refurbishment of the centre to ensure that it remained a “world-class retail destination”.
While the west Dublin scheme did suffer the loss of Debenhams as one its main anchors, the 97,000sq ft gap opened up on the first and second levels by the UK-headquartered retailer’s collapse has since been filled respectively by fashion retailer Zara and Flannels, the premium fashion arm of Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group. Other high-profile arrivals have included Nike’s first Unite store in Ireland on the centre’s ground floor. The new 11,000sq ft outlet replaces the US-headquartered sportswear giant’s existing factory store at the adjacent Westend Retail Park. The Blanchardstown Centre comprises some 112,000sq m (1.2 million sq ft) of retail space distributed across 180 shops. The scheme, which is anchored by major retailers such as Dunnes Stores, Penneys and Marks & Spencer, also comprises three external retail parks, external retail units, an office block and 7,000 free car-parking spaces.