Wednesday 23 August 2017

First Citizen makes move into commercial real estate lending

First Citizen’s Chris Hanlon
First Citizen’s Chris Hanlon

Gretchen Friemann

Dublin-based consumer finance firm First Citizen Finance is muscling deeper into commercial real estate lending after securing a €150m financing facility with NatWest Markets, the corporate and institutional banking arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, the Irish Independent has learned.

The move underscores the growing clout of local players in the market as they carve out a lucrative niche in the wake of the banking crisis, which forced a retreat of international lenders and pitched the main banks into a lengthy recovery period.

Chris Hanlon, chief executive and founder of First Citizen, pictured, declined to confirm or comment on the deal.

However, the addition of NatWest Markets delivers another boost to the rapidly-growing firm, which was formed from the shell of Permanent TSB's asset financing arm. First Citizen already operates in the car financing and agri and equipment financing sectors.

While it embarked on limited commercial real estate lending earlier this year, the NatWest Markets will deliver greater reach and scale.

First Citizen intends to focus on key metropolitan centres and will focus on income-generating assets. Sources said most of the borrowers are likely to be drawn from portfolios controlled by the global distressed debt funds with First Citizen aiming to write mortgages of between €500,000 to €7.5m.

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