Saturday 19 January 2019

Nine new parties weigh 'Dublin Living' purchase

Marlet chief Pat Crean is assessing a number of option for the ‘Dublin Living’ portfolio
Marlet chief Pat Crean is assessing a number of option for the ‘Dublin Living’ portfolio

Ronald Quinlan and Donal Buckley

At least nine parties have approached developer Pat Crean's Marlet Property Group to express their interest in acquiring the 'Dublin Living' apartment portfolio since negotiations were terminated last week with the scheme's expected purchaser, Round Hill Capital.

While Mr Crean is understood to be assessing a number of options in relation to the portfolio's four sites at St Clare's and Mount Argus in Harold's Cross, Carriglea on the Naas road and on the former CIE lands in Cabra, the Irish Independent understands a number of international investors have been weighing the possibility of stepping into Round Hill's shoes to forward fund the delivery of the scheme's 1,205 Build-to-Rent (BTR) apartments.

Included in the parties who are understood to have been in contact with Marlet since last Wednesday are: Hines, Kennedy Wilson, Tristan Capital Partners, Aberdeen Investments, Angelo, Gordon & Co.; LRC, Greystar, and the Deutsche Bank subsidiary, DWS Investments.

Greystar and Tristan Capital Partners were amoung the parties who lost out to Round Hill Capital in the original bidding process last year. The 'Dublin Living' portfolio was brought to the market by Savills Ireland last June for a guide price of €425m.

Prior to the breakdown of talks last week, Round Hill had reportedly been prepared to pay Marlet in the region of €450m to secure the scheme. A failure by the parties to reach agreement on the structure of the proposed deal however is understood to have scuppered the negotiations.

While Marlet's next move in relation to the 'Dublin Living' portfolio remains unclear, a spokesperson for the company said that work is continuing on each of the scheme's four sites.

These include the Mount Argus development in Harold's Cross which "is on track to have occupation by the end of this year". A second Harold's Cross site, at St Clare's, is currently being developed. Work has also started on both a former CIE site in Cabra and at the Carriglea site off the Naas Road.

"All should be well on the way to completion by the end of 2019," the spokesperson added.

Ireland's burgeoning build-to-rent (BTR) market is becoming a magnet for large-scale investors. Indeed, according to a report published by CBRE earlier this year, up to €5bn in capital is now targeting BTR opportunities here.

The vast majority of investors' money is chasing opportunities in the Dublin market, where the demand for housing is at its most acute.

Outside of the capital, CBRE noted Kennedy Wilson's acquisition of the Elysian Building in Cork in the face of keen competition from numerous rival bidders as being indicative of investor appetite for core product in the country's key population centres.

The build-to-rent sector is popular with institutional investors such as pension funds as the rental income from residential units in large numbers provide steady returns over many years, and through the peaks and troughs of economic cycles.

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