THE National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) yesterday claimed its first public victory in the property market, announcing the "intrinsic role" it had played in the €99.9m sale of the Montevetro building to internet giant Google.
In a statement, Nama also said that it had recovered "in excess" of the original amount it paid for the Montevetro loan plus the additional cash it gave Real Estate Opportunities (Reo) to complete the project.
Market sources believe the taxpayer will still take a heavy hit on the 210,000 sq ft Montevetro project, since the original loan was advanced by almost-nationalised AIB, which is understood to have suffered a significant haircut when the loan moved to Nama.
Nama's announcement on Montevetro marked the agency's first public commentary on an individual asset sale and came as both Google and Reo issued announcements on the deal, which will give Google space for 2,000 extra workers.
In a statement, Nama said the completion and sale of the building demonstrated the "positive potential of Nama to support the commercial property market in Ireland without compromising its objective of recovering money owed to the taxpayer".
Property market sources said that Treasury Holdings-owned Reo had achieved an above market rate for Montevetro, which commanded €35 per sq ft against the €32.50 for "prime" Dublin offices revealed by the latest CBRE office market survey.
Sources added, however, that the Montevetro deal was a "special purchaser" arrangement because Google had a particular interest in a building on that site since the online giant already has a significant operation across the road at the Gasworks.
"You'd always get more from a special purchase," one added.
Google already employs 1,600 people at its Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA) headquarters in Dublin, spread across three sites in the Gasworks, Gordon House and East Point.
A company spokeswoman yesterday said all existing sites would be kept but insisted that "does not mean" Google will take on 2,000 extra staff.
In a statement, Google Ireland boss John Herlihy said the internet giant was "at capacity" at its current EMEA headquarters in Dublin and would "relocate" some existing staff to Montevetro.
"Acquiring Montevetro also means we have the space and flexibility to support future operations," he added. Earlier this year, Google confirmed it was looking to hire an extra 1,000 people in Europe -- many now expect a significant percentage of these new jobs to come to Montevetro.
In a stock market statement, Reo confirmed Google had initially approached the company about leasing Montevetro but had then asked if it could buy the building "outright".