Thursday 25 May 2017

BoI investor Kennedy Wilson to target further Irish assets

FINANCE

Laura Noonan

Laura Noonan

BANK of Ireland investor Kennedy Wilson and its partners are planning to "continue" this year's $3.5bn (€2.6bn) investment in Irish assets by buying finance, real estate and "operating businesses".

Kennedy Wilson chief William McMorrow confirmed his group's enduring appetite for Irish acquisitions to the Irish Independent, adding that he was "very very pleased" with how investments so far had panned out.

His California-based property company first dipped its toe in the Irish market by buying Bank of Ireland Real Estate Management last June, marking the firm's first break into Europe.

Mr McMorrow then went on to approach other investors including Fairfax Financial and Wilbur Ross to make a strategic investment in Bank of Ireland, culminating in €1.1bn July investment that kept the bank from nationalisation.

More recently, Kennedy Wilson and partners from the US and Europe bought a $1.8bn UK commercial portfolio from Bank of Ireland, with the final batch of loans transferring over this week.

"With our partners we've invested $3.5bn in Ireland, I expect that investment to continue," Mr McMorrow said.

"We'll be buying more, probably finance, real estate and other assets as well."

Mr McMorrow said he was particularly keen to look at "operating businesses". While Kennedy Wilson has traditionally focused on real estate and finance, Mr McMorrow said partners like Fairfax Financial had extensive experience of non-financial investment.

The Beverley Hills based executive declined to be drawn on the specifics of any deal, but said he would be "looking at any opportunities that come up".

See Focus page 7

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