Sunday 15 December 2019

Hammerson closes deal on Dundrum Town Centre

It’s Ireland’s retail mecca, but homes could now be built beside Dundrum Town Centre
It’s Ireland’s retail mecca, but homes could now be built beside Dundrum Town Centre
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

An agreement which will see the transfer of the ownership of the relevant assets of developer Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land, including the Dundrum Town Centre, to British property group Hammerson and its partner, the German insurer Allianz, has been reached, the Irish Independent has learned.

It is understood the final work is now being done to facilitate the transfer of ownership between the parties of what a source familiar with the matter described as a "complex structure".

News of the deal's finalisation comes just two weeks on from an email communication sent to a number of staff at the Dundrum Town Centre informing them that their employment would transfer to the Hammerson Group on June 20 last.

Hammerson and Chartered Land declined to comment on the deal, whose completion represents the culmination of a process which began with Hammerson and Allianz's €1.85bn acquisition of a portfolio of loans associated with Chartered Land from the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) in the summer of last year.

The portfolio - code-named 'Project Jewel' by Nama to reflect the quality of its underlying assets - also included loans attached to 50pc stakes in the Dublin's Ilac Centre and the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Swords.

While Hammerson and Allianz intend to share the ownership of the Dundrum Town Centre and an adjoining six-acre site earmarked for development, Hammerson will assume responsibility for managing the assets.

The future development of Dundrum could yet see a significant element of housing.

That possibility was flagged by Hammerson's director of business improvement, Simon Betty, in the course of a conference call to analysts from investment banks JP Morgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and others late last year.

Asked about the overall development potential of the Project Jewel portfolio, Simon Betty highlighted the range of opportunities available at Dundrum phase 2 - the site of the original and adjacent Dundrum shopping centre.

Mr Betty said that while the site could be used for additional retail development, it could end up being redeveloped as housing.

"Dundrum phase 2 clearly provides a whole range of opportunities from an extension to the existing asset right through to a more residential-led scheme given its proximity to Dundrum Town Centre itself and the transport infrastructure," Mr Betty said.

"And I'm sure you're well aware of the recovery in the Irish housing market, particularly concentrated in Dublin," he continued.

Apart from the Dundrum Town Centre and stakes in the Ilac and Pavilions Shopping Centres, Hammerson and Allianz will also gain control of a major development site extending from the former Carlton cinema on O'Connell Street to Moore Street.

It remains unclear what role Mr O'Reilly's Chartered Land will play in the development of this site.

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