Sunday 25 February 2018

Kennedy Wilson offer Dublin as a Brexit 'back-up plan'

Kennedy Wilson's Capital Dock development may attract companies relocating from the UK
Kennedy Wilson's Capital Dock development may attract companies relocating from the UK
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Kennedy Wilson has held preliminary discussions with a number of banks in London in relation to the possible relocation of some of their operations to Dublin in the wake of Brexit.

The US-headquartered global real estate giant confirmed that "preliminary" talks had taken place in a recent investor meeting with analysts from Deutsche Bank.

A report issued by Deutsche Bank's market research team last Friday said: "They [Kennedy Wilson] have been in discussion with some banks about space in Dublin as a potential [Brexit] back-up plan, though these discussions sounded preliminary".

Asked by the Irish Independent for comment on the matter, Kennedy Wilson Europe's chief operating officer Peter Collins said: "As a company with a long-term commitment to Ireland, we are of course interested in exploring the unfolding scenarios offered by Brexit and the potential for further investment in Ireland, and Dublin in particular."

However, while Kennedy Wilson may be looking to exploit the potential opportunities Brexit presents by attracting UK-based employers to Dublin, where it has a significant presence in the office and residential rental market, the company told Deutsche Bank's analysts that it "remains highly focused" on opportunities in the UK.

The company's management also sought to downplay comments made by its CEO Bill McMorrow in a recent interview with the 'Financial Times', in which he said the company was "in the very early stages" of considering whether to expand its existing business in Ireland from renting homes to building homes to sell.

"We're looking at how we might get involved in housebuilding here [in Ireland]. So we are in the very early stages of looking at whether we should start building houses," Mr McMorrow told the newspaper.

Referring to the subsequent reporting of Mr McMorrow's comments, Deutsche Bank's analysts said Kennedy Wilson's management had indicated that it had "overstated Kennedy Wilson's intentions and that for sale home-building was not a high priority for the company".

Asked for clarification on this matter, Peter Collins told this newspaper that: "Kennedy Wilson is giving serious consideration to our ongoing role in housing in Ireland. This year alone we will be developing 500 multi-family units and we are now examining the potential scenarios for the provision of single family dwellings including in the for sale market."

The company is already looking to maximise the synergies between its development of office space and residential rental property. As previously reported by the Irish Independent, it will offer office tenants at its Capital Dock development in Dublin's docklands "priority access" to the 190 apartment units it is developing on the 4.8 acre site.

Capital Dock's 340,000 sq ft of office space is to be delivered in the final quarter of 2017, while its apartments will be ready for occupation from 2018, making both offerings timely propositions for UK-based employers investigating their post-Brexit options.

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