George Soros racks up stake in newly-floated Hibernia
Legendary billionaire investor George Soros is one of the biggest backers of the €365m Hibernia REIT, the property investment vehicle that floated last Friday.
The Soros-run Quantum fund has an 8.22 per cent stake in the Hibernia REIT, which was set up to invest in the Irish property market recovery. Soros, known as the "man who broke the Bank of England" for his bet against the British pound in the 1992, has invested in Irish groups before, taking stakes in Elan and Amarin as well as buying into Ardmore Shipping.
The Soros group is joined by Wall Street titan Louis Bacon's Moore capital and the vast US group CREF, which manages pensions and investments for thousands of US teachers.
Hibernia is the second property vehicle to float in recent weeks, following on from Stephen Vernon's Green REIT in October. The Irish property market recovery has attracted the attention of some of the wealthiest investors in the US. Franklin Templeton has built up a 13.5 per cent stake in Green, with John Paulson's hedge fund taking a 12.90 per cent chunk of the group.
Hibernia REIT raised €365m to buy property assets following the share placement.
Hibernia's board includes Aer Lingus chair Colm Barrington, former KPMG boss Terence O'Rourke and Ex-Irish Nationwide chairman Danny Kitchen as well as property veteran Bill Nowlan. Former Ireland rugby full-back Kevin Nowlan will manage the firm's portfolio.
REITs are listed firms that own or operate commercial property. They are not taxed on rental income so long as they pay 85 per cent of it to their shareholders in a dividend.