Sunday 23 July 2017

Listing highlights the new financing model for Irish construction firms

Cairn's performance on the market will be closely watched. Property investment firms have done well in recent years, but if Cairn is successful, more builders may follow them on to the market.
Cairn's performance on the market will be closely watched. Property investment firms have done well in recent years, but if Cairn is successful, more builders may follow them on to the market.

Cairn Homes' decision to go to the public markets won't be too big a surprise at this point - it has been flagged for some time, to the point that it would be more surprising if it did not float. However, it does mark a new era in Irish homebuilding.

Traditionally, Irish construction firms have tried to avoid going public if at all possible.

A public company has to make much more disclosures than a private firm, has to put its results out every six months instead of once a year, and has to answer to shareholders.

When credit was plentiful and the banks were more than happy to loan home builders whatever they wanted to fund construction, there was little incentive for building firms to go public.

McInerney was the last such firm to have a stock market listing - it went public in 1997. Now though, the game has changed. By all accounts, banks are only willing to fund about two-thirds of the value of a construction project, and even that money comes with far more conditions than would have been the case during the Celtic Tiger years.

That has left various building firms struggling to finance new projects.

Talking to developers, they have plenty of stories about sites that they feel would make for excellent housing estates and the like, but the banks won't give them the money to build them.

This has forced developers to seek alternative forms of finance.

Some, such as New Generation Homes have got a major backer like the hedge fund M&G Capital.

Cairn Homes however has decided to go to the stock market. The IPO will raise funds for the company, and if it goes well, will open the door to more fundraising down the line.

Cairn's performance on the market will be closely watched. Property investment firms have done well in recent years, but if Cairn is successful, more builders may follow them on to the market.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Also in Business