Tuesday 21 November 2017

€300m Irish REIT takes aim for float in December

Kenny and Nowlan elect to use Goodbody and Credit Suisse

Roisin Burke

Hibernia REIT, which will be Ireland's second listed Irish property trust, is set to begin trading next month, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

Hibernia is expected to issue its Intention To Float (ITF) announcement in the second half of this month and the fund aims to do its first trading of shares at the start of December.

Goodbody is advising the fund in Ireland and Credit Suisse is the London-based adviser.

US-based Irish property investor Frank Kenny has been jetting in and out of Dublin ahead of the launch and has been actively involved in the current 'pilot fishing' phase, the crucial investor temperature taking stage ahead of a float.

Hibernia will seek to raise €300m to buy good quality retail and commercial property. Similarly to the Stephen Vernon-led Green REIT, its target profile buys will be well-located Nama and distressed bank sale property with decent income flow potential.

Dubliner Kenny founded Willett Companies, a €500m-plus portfolio New York property fund and has a long history in property.

Kenny along with Bill Nowlan and his son Kevin Nowlan of property adviser WK Nowlan are believed to be the driving expertise behind the fund, the second of its kind to launch in Ireland.

Both property investment firm Kennedy Wilson and pension fund the Irish Property Unit Trust are said to be mulling REIT launches. It had also been suggested that Nama would do so, with Finance Minister Michael Noonan saying the Nama board would consider a move.

Goodbody Stockbrokers speculated some months back that Kennedy Wilson's sizeable Irish residential portfolio, including the €80m Clancy Quay apartment development, would give it scale to list this type of trust. Peter Collins of Kennedy Wilson's Irish office said that the firm doesn't comment on such matters.

Last week, Green REIT announced its first acquisition, €180m worth of property including a Danske Bank portfolio, with a yield of over 8.5 per cent.

The high-calibre board of Hibernia includes Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington, Terence O'Rourke, the former managing partner of KPMG, property and banking figure Danny Kitchen and retail and property director Stewart Harrington as well as Bill Nowlan.

"There is nothing we can say ahead of the ITF," Willett's spokesman said.

Kevin Nowlan is a former Nama portfolio manager while Bill Nowlan has been an avid promoter of the REIT format and founded the REIT Forum, a body to promote the introduction of REIT facilitating legislation in Ireland.

WK Nowlan did not comment before going to press.

Sunday Independent

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