Business Irish

Thursday 8 December 2016

State-backed lender says funds committed for 1,200 city homes

Published 24/09/2016 | 02:30

The addition of new starter homes will come as welcome news to first-time buyers looking to snap up a house. Stock Image
The addition of new starter homes will come as welcome news to first-time buyers looking to snap up a house. Stock Image

Residential finance provider Activate Capital has now committed funding for sites in the greater Dublin area with the capacity to build 1,200 new homes.

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Activate Capital is a joint venture between the State-controlled Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and global investment firm KKR.

The sites are a mix of both zoned and planned locations with the type of houses ranging from starter to larger family homes. The first houses backed by Activate are due to hit the market in October.

Activate chief executive Robert Gallagher said the Government's housing action plan is to be welcomed.

"A significant inhibitor of progress has been the inability of house builders to access sufficient capital to progress their plans. Our capital partners ISIF and KKR have agreed to amend their facilities so that we can offer competitively priced loans across the development risk spectrum," he said.

The investment chief said while there is an increase in projects in its pipeline there needs to be much more development activity in the market to make a meaningful impact on the housing shortages.

"The greater availability and affordability of bespoke capital for house building will undoubtedly help move the dial.

"Given this, we anticipate a material uplift in activity in 2017, not just in Dublin but also in other urban locations around the country."

Activate's continued investment comes after additions to its executive team. The firm has added Dan Murphy from AIB, Emmet O'Reilly from Argentum Homes and Ciaran O'Toole from Ulster Bank. Activate has also appointed Stewart Harrington as a non-executive director.

KKR invested €175m to the joint venture back in July in a deal that could eventually see the creation of 11,000 houses.

KKR is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with its Irish scheme focusing on medium to large-scale developments.

It is estimated Activate will have committed over €120m of its total €500m on housing projects by the end of this year.

The ISIF is a €7.6bn sovereign investment fund set up in 2014 with the mandate of investing on a commercial basis to help support economic activity and employment in the State. The fund ended last year with total investments of €2bn and pledged to spend a further €750m this year.

As part of yesterday's announcement the joint venture said it would be expanding its product offering, which will enable a broader range of pricing, dependent on risk profiles.

"The changes we are announcing will enable Activate to finance lower risk residential projects at a single digit cost of capital," ISIF head of private equity Fergal McAleavey said.

The addition of new starter homes will come as welcome news to first-time buyers looking to snap up a house.

The supply shortage in Dublin has driven prices up making it increasingly difficult for young people to enter the market.

Irish Independent

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