Monday 19 February 2018

But does Green see the cycle turning?

Finance minister Michael Noonan (left) with Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne at the listing of Green REIT in 2013.
Finance minister Michael Noonan (left) with Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne at the listing of Green REIT in 2013.
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

It's a question that is being asked across offices in Dublin, London and around the world today.

What do Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne see in the market that most property professionals do not?

On Wednesday, the pair's listed property firm Green REIT said it would seek to sell about 750,000 sq ft of commercial real estate in a portfolio known as Project Glas.

The firm has retained JLL to market Glas, which includes the mixed use Arena Centre in Tallaght, Ormond Building in Dublin city centre, Classon House in Dublin 14 and Parnell Car Park in Dublin 1. The other two assets are Globe Retail Park in Naas and Parkway Retail Park in Limerick.

With a price tag in excess of €168.7m, the properties offer a yield of 6.6pc.

On the face of it the numbers look reasonable, but the sale, coupled with Green Property's decision to sell the Blanchardstown Centre for about €1bn has caused unease in the market.

It's important to note that Green Property is a completely separate entity from Green REIT, but both have access to the insight of Mr Vernon.

The 65-year-old has been in the property business a long time and didn't amass his reputed €200m fortune by making too many bad calls.

When Green bought the remainder of the Central Park business park last year, Green promised asset disposals would follow so this sale makes sense from that point of view. But Green REIT has also been one of the few notable bearish voices on what's left in this commercial property cycle, especially in the Dublin office market.

Announcing its interim results last September, the company said it would cut its borrowing levels by a third as the market in Dublin was moving to more "normal" levels.

That same month, Green's chief investment officer Caroline McCarthy and Hibernia REIT's Kevin Nowlan had a frank exchange of views at a property conference over where the Dublin office market was going. Ms McCarthy pointed to the potential glut in office supply that may come in 2017 and beyond.

Nobody ever went bust selling too early and it's possible Green has just decided to cash in while there are still plenty of buyers, but is that the case?

The Project Glas and Blanchardstown sales will be closely watched. If they don't get their asking price, then look out.

Indo Business

Promoted Links

Promoted Links

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business