Green Reit and Kennedy Wilson are believed to have won the race to buy the Central Park business centre in south Dublin in what is likely to be the biggest property deal of the year.
Green REIT confirmed yesterday that it had been selected as preferred bidder by the National Asset Management Agency, but added "there can be no certainty that any transaction will occur". The company declined to add any detail.
US-based Kennedy Wilson is also tipped to be on the brink of launching one of the largest property linked stock market flotations since the bust, with a £750m (€913m) fund-raising on the London Stock Exchange, according to the Property Week magazine.
The new fund would invest in opportunistic and distressed real estate in the UK, Ireland and Spain, according to the report. Kennedy Wilson told investors last month it was considering a European IPO.
The Green REIT (real estate investment trust) is believed to have teamed up with the US firm in the battle for Central Park and is thought to have agreed terms to pay €310m for the estate. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Green REIT will take on the office blocks in the development, while Kennedy Wilson will claim the apartment blocks on the site.
The deal is a coup for Green REIT, which has bought several properties since it became Ireland's first REIT when it was launched last summer.
It is also something of a surprise. Analysts had expected Blackstone, the world's largest private equity firm, to provide the winning bid. However, Blackstone and another US firm, Lone-star, were among the losers. The properties, which include four office blocks and a number of apartment buildings, went on the market with an asking price of €250m last November. At 700,000 sq ft, Central Park is by far the largest office development to come to market in recent times.
Tenants on site include investment bank Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as well as exploration giant Tullow Oil. Vodafone has one of its main offices on the site at Leopardstown, while clinical trials giant Icon also has its corporate headquarters located there. Some 272 apartments have also been built on site. Central Park was originally developed by Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett's Treasury Holdings, but was taken over by NAMA after that firm's demise.
The sale process has been one of the most sensitive events involving the State bad bank. The emergence of a five-strong shortlist last month is known to have caused huge disquiet within the agency, and a "lockdown" of information on the process swiftly followed.
A spokesman for NAMA declined to comment on the deal.