Business Irish

Thursday 22 February 2018

Blackstone eyes €2.3bn in loans

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Eircom's biggest shareholder is looking to raise €2.3bn to invest in real-estate loans after closing a smaller "special situations" fund to invest in troubled property debt.

News that the US investor is raising a war chest targeting the property sector will be closely read by bank chiefs here.

All of the main banks, as well as NAMA and Irish Bank Resolution Corp (IBRC), have been seeking buyers for their portfolios of real-estate loans.

Details remain scarce, but private equity firm Blackstone is known to have looked at Ireland and the assets of Irish banks.

Last year the firm lost out in an auction to buy €6bn of US property loans from NAMA.

It has since became the single biggest shareholder in Eircom, after swapping loans owed to its GSO and Harbourmaster units for a stake in the company. The Eircom loans were bought by GSO at a discount before being converted into shares.

Now Blackstone is fundraising among investors for the $3bn (€2.3bn) Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies II debt fund.

Other bidders, notably US rivals Lone Star and Kennedy Wilson are actively in the hunt for Irish loan books, but the crisis in Spain means competition to attract buyers is increasing.

Irish Independent

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